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Nigerian brothers’ lawyers says they are prepared to testify at Jussie Smollett trial


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The lawyer for the Nigerian brothers at the center of the Jussie Smollett ‘hoax’ attack scandal say they are prepared to testify at his trial but that they will not feel vindicated unless the Empire actor is found guilty of lying to police. 

Smollett was charged on Tuesday with lying to police in a six-count, grand jury indictment which revived the case against him. Last year, he was arrested after claiming to have been the victim of a racist, homophobic attack in Chicago. 

Brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, who knew Smollett, say he paid them to stage the attack against him and that they went along with it for $3,500, not knowing the media storm it would create. Smollett’s attorneys, over the last year, have accused the brothers of lying.

The 37-year-old star was charged but the case was dropped by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in a decision that shocked and outraged the local police department.   

Brothers Abel (right) and Ola (left) Osundairo told police Smollett paid them to stage the attack. They were later accused by the star’s attorneys of lying. Now, they will testify for either side at Smollett’s trial

On Wednesday, a day after Smollett was charged by a special prosecutor who was assigned to take over the messy case last August, the Osundairo brothers’ attorney Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez told DailyMail.com neither she nor they were surprised by the indictment. 

Jussie Smollett in his February 2019 mugshot. He is due in court again on February 24

Jussie Smollett in his February 2019 mugshot. He is due in court again on February 24  

She said they had been cooperating with special prosecutor Dan Webb’s office and that the brothers would testify for either side if the case goes to trial. 

Remarkably, they do not hold ‘any ill-will’ against Smollett himself but, she said, they ‘hope he can be honest’.   

‘They have no ill will towards Mr Smollett. They really feel like their role in this now is to be honest about what they know. 

‘They hope he can be honest about what he knows,’ she said. 

Schmidt Rodriguez said they do not yet feel vindicated of accusations by Smollett’s attorneys that they had made up the ‘plot’ that he paid them, and said they want to see it play out in court. 

‘They don’t feel vindicated. A real vindication would be when a court of law says, ‘OK Mr Smollett – you were guilty of lying.’ At that point they would,’ she said. 

The brothers last year filed a lawsuit against Smollett’s attorney, Tina Glandian, after she went on Good Morning America and a podcast to accuse them of lying. 

Glandina also suggested that they trafficked Nigerian steroids and that Abel, the younger brother, spent the night at Smollett’s apartment. 

Tina Glandian, one of Jussie Smollett's lawyers

Abel Osundairo is shown in a 2016 video dressed up as the Joker

Jussie Smollett’s lawyer Tina Glandian (left) suggested the reason Smollett told police his Nigerian attackers were white was because they ‘might have been wearing white face’ and had disguised themselves. Her evidence of the theory is 2016 video of Abel Osundairo (right) dressed up as the Joker. The Osundairo brothers called her statements ‘hurtful and offensive’ 

She offered the theory that Ola, the older brother, wanted to ‘test’ Abel before they went to Nigeria by attacking Smollett who is openly gay.   

In their April 2019 lawsuit, they said Glandian’s allegations were not only inaccurate but also unnecessary because the charges against Smollett had been dropped.

On Wednesday, Schmidt Rodriguez told DailyMail.com the pair were still hurt over what she said. 

‘Who is really attacking their character is just the lawyers. It’s not Jussie. It’s his lawyers who painted my clients to be self-serving sycophants to create a ruse to escape liability. 

Lawyer Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez told DailyMail.com on Wednesday the brothers were willing to cooperate and had been cooperating with the special prosecutor's office

Lawyer Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez told DailyMail.com on Wednesday the brothers were willing to cooperate and had been cooperating with the special prosecutor’s office 

‘It’s so offensive and so hurtful,’ she said. 

The pair have not been able to earn a living for a year through personal training because, she said, clients make appointments with them for the sole purpose of getting close to them or asking them questions about the case. 

They now find it difficult to engage with the community in Chicago, she added, and cannot go to church or to the grocery store without being singled out. 

The brothers have always admitted that they went along with Smollett’s alleged hoax plot but because they never made any statements to police about it, they were never charged. 

Schmidt Rodriguez says now that had they known it would turn into such a firestorm, they would have turned him down. 

‘If they would have known the fall out they would have never done this. They would have said, ‘ugh Jussie – thanks for nothing.” 

Smollett maintains he is innocent. 

In a statement on his behalf on Tuesday night, Glandian said the case against him was politically charged.  

‘This is clearly all about politics not justice’: Full statement from Jussie Smollett’s Attorney Tina Glandian 

This indictment raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation that led to the renewed charges against Mr. Smollett, not the least of which is the use of the same CPD detectives who were part of the original investigation into the attack on Mr. Smollett to conduct the current investigation, despite Mr. Smollett’s pending civil claims against the City of Chicago and CPD officers for malicious prosecution. 

And one of the two witnesses who testified before the grand jury is the very same detective Mr. Smollett is currently suing for his role in the initial prosecution of him.

After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett. 

Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence. 

The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.

 

Legal experts have knocked down the possibility that he would be able to use a double jeopardy defense because he was technically never tried or convicted the first time around. 

Instead, the case was dropped without it ever going to court in what State’s Attorney Kim Foxx called an ‘alternative prosecution’. 

She has been accused of prosecutorial misconduct for how she handled it from the beginning. 

Special prosecutor Webb said she ought to have properly stepped away from the case after her contact with Smollett’s family friend – Tina Tchen – emerged. 

Instead, she informally recused herself and handed the case off to her deputy then advised him to drop the charges against Smollett. 

On Tuesday night, Foxx chalked Webb’s decision to bring charges against Smollett down to politics. She said he was only trying to bolster his re-election chances and compared the decision to that of James Comey, former FBI director, announcing just before the 2016 presidential election that he was reopning his probe into Hillary Clinton. 

‘What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive,’ she said.  

It is now more than a year since Smollett claimed he was attacked at 2am on January 29, 2019 while walking to a Subway near his Chicago home to buy a sandwich. 

He told police his attackers called him racist and homophobic slurs and that they appeared light-skinned. 

At the time, it seemed he had been walking home from Subway in the  middle of the night after returning home late on a delayed flight when he was approached. 

He told police afterwards his attackers identified him from the show he was on, Empire, and called him both the N-word and ‘f****t’. 

Smollet pictured suffering injuries to his face in the hospital after the alleged attack

Smollet pictured suffering injuries to his face in the hospital after the alleged attack 

He said they beat him, poured bleach on him then put a noose around his neck. 

Smollett went back to his apartment where his friend, Frank Gaston, was. It was Gaston who insisted they call police. 

When officers arrived, the actor refused to hand over his phone. 

He went to the hospital to be checked over but had no major injuries. 

The Chicago Police Department vowed to investigate the incident with all its might, and celebrities around the world rushed to share their support of Smollett. 

He became a household name almost overnight. 

But as the police investigation progressed, leaks began from within the police department that all may not have been as it seemed. 

As the controversy grew, Smollett – determined to make his case – went on Good Morning America where he cried and insisted he was telling the truth. 

Special Prosecutor Dan Webb was appointed in August to examine what occurred in the case

Special Prosecutor Dan Webb was appointed in August to examine what occurred in the case

By then, Chicago PD had released grainy surveillance camera footage of two men walking near the scene of the incident itself which was among the only part of his journey not captured on Chicago’s vast network of security cameras that night. 

Smollett unequivocally identified the two men in the grainy footage as his attackers. 

Neither their faces nor skin color could be made out in it. 

Unbeknownst to him while he was conducting his GMA interview, the Chicago PD was building a case against him. 

They had identified the people in the video as the Osundairo brothers and had backed-up their belief by tracking the pair’s movements in the days and hours both before and after the incident.  

Smollett was eventually arrested and charged with suspicion of lying to police.   

The brothers flew to Nigeria within hours of the January 29 incident and missed the media storm which followed. 

When they landed back in the US, police investigators were waiting to question them. 

After hours of secret interviews, they told cops that Smollett had paid them to carry out the attack as part of an elaborate hoax. 

Smollett was then arrested. 

In an extraordinary press conference afterwards, then police chief Eddie Gallagher accused him of inflaming race relations in Chicago and of wasting police time. 

He bellowed that Smollett had tried to leverage the ‘attack’ to get his bosses at Empire to pay him more.  

Despite police outrage, prosecutor Kim Foxx was quiet. 

JUSSIE SMOLLETT TIMELINE 

January 29: The ‘hoax’ attack outside Smollett’s apartment in Chicago occurs. 

January 30: A wave of public sympathy rushes over Smollett, until then a relatively unknown actor 

February 14: After a series of unfavorable leaks from the Chicago PD, Smollett goes on Good Morning America to plead his case.

Unbeknownst to him, brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo are being interviewed by police after returning from Nigeria.  

February 20: Smollett is arrested and accused of lying to police. 

He is bailed out on a $10,000 cash bond. 

March 7: Grand jury indicted Smollett

March 26: Charges dropped 

April 11: Chicago sues Smollett for $130,000 – the cost of the investigation

August: Dan Webb is appointed special prosecutor  

November: Smollett counter-sues, alleging malicious prosecution 

February 11, 2020: Reports emerge that Dan Webb has charged Smollett  

 

The case then went to a grand jury which returned a stunning, 16-felony indictment that would have put Smollett behind bars for more than 50 years if he had been convicted. 

By then, Foxx had informally recused herself from the case. 

Her conflict of interest was that in the early days of the police investigation, she intervened at the request of Smollett’s family and their friend – Tina Tchen – who wanted the FBI to take over the police investigation. 

They said they were worried by the number of leaks that had come from the Chicago PD and asked Foxx to help. She said she would try. 

After the grand jury indictment, the case stalled for a few weeks. 

Then, in March, Foxx’s deputy Joseph Magats – who had taken over – announced the decision that the charges against Smollett had been dropped. 

Foxx had intervened again, it emerged, and pointed to what they called ‘alternative prosecution’ whereby Smollett, a first-time offender, was let off with a $10,000 bail forfeiture and community service. 

There was outrage and calls for Foxx to be investigated herself for prosecutorial misconduct. 

As judges and special prosecutors for that task were tossed around, the city came out swinging in civil court. They sued Smollett, asking him to reimburse them for all the money they said they’d wasted investigating what they believed were bogus claims. 

Smollett counter-sued, accusing the city and Eddie Gallagher of malicious prosecution. He lost his job on Empire and became a pariah in the showbiz world he was allegedly trying to ascend through. 

Webb was appointed in August to investigate why Foxx’s office had dropped the charges. 

He himself faced criticism and claims of another conflict of interest when it emerged he had donated $1,000 to Foxx’s re-election campaign once.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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