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Jussie Smollett is set to be released from prison pending appeal

Jussie Smollett poses for a Cook County jail photo as he begins his sentence in Chicago
FILE PHOTO: Jussie Smollett poses for a Cook County prison photo as he begins his sentence in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 10, 2022. Picture taken March 10, 2022. Cook County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS

March 17, 2022

(Reuters) – An Illinois appeals court on Wednesday ordered the release of actor Jussie Smollett from prison as the former star of television drama ‘Empire’ appeals his conviction for orchestrating a hate crime against himself.

The 2-1 verdict by a three-judge panel found Smollett’s conviction for a non-violent crime and said he could be released after posting $150,000 acknowledgment bail. It was unclear when Smollett would be able to walk free.

Smollett has served six nights in jail since a Cook County judge sentenced him to 150 days in prison plus 30 months probation, ordered him to pay over $120,000 in damages and fined him $25,000.

In December, a jury found 39-year-old Smollett guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct for falsely telling police he was approached by two masked strangers on a dark Chicago street in January 2019 in a racist and homophobic attack . The investigation found that Smollett, who is black and gay, paid two men to stage the attack.

Though Smollett has maintained his innocence, he lost his role as a singer-songwriter in the final season of ‘Empire,’ a Fox hip-hop drama that ended a five-year run in 2020.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Dais Johnston

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