(CHICAGO) — Empire actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in a Chicago courtroom Thursday to charges that he lied to police about being the victim of an alleged hate crime in January.
Smollett’s lawyer Tina Glandian entered the plea on Smollett’s behalf to Judge Steven Watkins, who was assigned to oversee the case and trial.
During the proceedings, the judge grated Smollett’s request to be allowed to meet with lawyers in New York and California, but said the actor must give the court prior notice. Smollett’s next court date is scheduled for April 17.
As previously noted, Smollett has been charged with 16 felony counts related to his claim that he was the victim of a brutal hate crime in Chicago on January 29. After a thorough investigation, police declared the attack to be a hoax, and said that Smollett hired two brothers of Nigerian descent, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, to carry out the plan.
After Smollett’s initial arraignment, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson told reporters that the “phony attack” was “orchestrated” by the actor “to boost his profile” amid “a salary dispute.”
Smollett, who still maintains his innocence, has denied all claims.
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