Jussie Smollett may regret his failure to pay a bill sent to him courtesy of the City of Chicago.
After an extensive investigative process, a demand for payment was sent to the alleged hate crime hoaxer in an effort by the city to obtain reimbursement for costs incurred due to Smollett’s claims.
The letter gave the “Empire” actor seven days in which to pay an amount of approximately $130,000.
Smollett is refusing to pay the city anything, not a single solitary penny. He continues to publicly claim that he has been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” despite the fact that one of his lawyers has already fundamentally altered the facts of his claims.
Smollett may be about to reap the whirlwind because of a civil lawsuit that the city of Chicago plans to file against him. Bill McCaffrey, a spokesperson for Chicago’s Department of Law, released a statement indicating that because Smollett “has refused to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false report on January 29, 2019,” a civil complaint is in the process of being drafted.
McCaffrey commented that the lawsuit against Smollett will be filed “in the near future” and that the city will “pursue the full measure of damages allowed under the ordinance.”
A provision in the municipal code allows the city to file a civil action to collect the costs incurred when individuals make “false statements” to law enforcement and cause resources to be wasted.
The law also allows the city to go after the actor for “up to three times the amount of damages the city sustains” as a result of the violation. Consequently, if Smollett loses he faces a possible judgment of $390,000. In addition, the city can recover court costs and attorney’s fees, which could push the amount he could owe to over $500,000.
Smollett will soon realize that civil law differs greatly from criminal law, just as O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake discovered. Civil lawsuits pose grave problems even in cases in which criminal defendants are acquitted after a full trial.
In civil cases, the burden of proof is significantly less than that required of prosecutors in a criminal proceeding. The standard for the prosecution in a criminal matter requires evidence sufficient to prove the guilt of the defendant “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In its civil lawsuit against Smollett, the City of Chicago is only required to produce a “preponderance of evidence” to prove that Smollett is liable for the amounts sought. This civil standard requires that the city prove Smollett is more likely than not to have arranged for the attack upon himself, for the court, in the form of a judge or a jury, to hold the actor liable.
The $130,000 may in hindsight look quite inexpensive to Smollett, especially after he sees the amount of legal costs for which he will be responsible in order to defend himself against the City of Chicago’s lawsuit.
The extensive civil litigation that the city’s lawsuit would create would open the actor up for a sworn deposition under oath with the penalty of perjury hanging in the balance.
Smollett and his attorneys continue to make public statements proclaiming Smollett’s innocence. However, Joseph Magats, a lead prosecutor in the case, recently said that he “does not believe” Smollett is innocent.
Perhaps the greatest risk for Smollett is that a court will come to a legal conclusion that it was he himself who staged the alleged attack upon his person, thereby cementing his place in history as a B-list hate crime stager.