The brothers who allegedly took part in what police say was a staged attack on actor Jussie Smollett are expressing “tremendous regret” for their involvement.
“They understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves,” said Gloria Schmidt, an attorney for the brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo.
Smollett reported in January that he had been attacked in Chicago in an incident that ended with a noose around his neck. Police initially investigated the case as a possible hate crime.
But now police allege that Smollett hired the Osundairo brothers and paid them $3,500 to stage the attack. Smollett faces a felony charge of disorderly conduct for falsely claiming he was attacked, police said.
Disorderly conduct is generally not charged as a felony, Chicago defense attorney Steven Hunter told CNN in an email. But the national and international attention on the case likely made the charge more significant for the defendant, he said. And that could impact any future punishment if he is convicted, he said.
“In my experience, the more publicity a case has, the worse it is for the defendant,” Hunter said.
Investigators believe Smollett staged the attack “because he was dissatisfied with his salary,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said, citing information that the brothers gave to police.
The actor took “advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Johnson said.
Smollett has maintained that he did not make the story up. A source told CNN that he reiterated to the “Empire” cast and crew he was innocent of the charge against him.
Smollett is now out on a $10,000 bond and is due back in court March 14.
The brothers are cooperating fully with their investigation and are no longer suspects, Chicago police said. They were released without charges after being arrested last month.
CNN’s Eric Levenson contributed to this report.