A letter from the city’s legal department to Smollett and his attorneys said that figure covers overtime worked by more than two dozen detectives and officers who spent weeks looking into Smollett’s claim in January, including reviewing video and physical evidence and conducting interviews.
Those resources, the letter said, “could have been used for other investigations”. Hours earlier, Donald Trump tweeted that the FBI and the Department of Justice would review the “outrageous” case, calling it an “embarrassment” to the country.
Prosecutors infuriated the Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and the police chief this week when they abruptly dropped 16 felony counts that accused Smollett of making a false police report about being the target of a racist, anti-gay attack in January.
Smollett has maintained his innocence and insisted that the attack was real.
The prosecution sealed the case, but authorities still say the actor concocted the assault. Prosecutors offered no additional information Thursday during a court hearing where media attorneys argued that the public has a right to know what happened.
The justice department sometimes brings federal cases after state prosecutors have declined to file charges, including after police shootings that the federal government believes might constitute civil rights violations.
But department policy generally restricts prosecutors from bringing federal charges after state charges have been resolved, unless they can establish that the potential crime at issue is a federal one and involves “a substantial federal interest”.
If Smollett fails to pay, officials could charge him with violating a city ordinance and seek fines, damages and court costs, the letter said.
'I would not bring my family through a fire like this,' says Jussie Smollett – video
A spokeswoman for Smollett attorney Patricia Brown Holmes declined to comment on the letter.
In the past, city officials have sought restitution from other people who made false reports and from businesses that pursued city contracts by seeking disadvantaged business status, said a spokesman for the legal department, Bill McCaffrey.
Investigators believe Smollett, who is black and openly gay, hired two brothers to stage the 29 January attack in downtown Chicago and that Smollett hoped the attention would help advance his career by provoking public concern. Police also allege that before the attack, Smollett sent a letter that faked threats against himself to the Chicago television studio where Empire is shot.
The FBI, which is investigating that letter, has declined to comment.
Smollett attorney Tina Glandian said the two brothers are lying. She said Smollett had hired one brother as a personal trainer but had no idea who attacked him along a Chicago street until the brothers were later identified by police.
Smollett has repeatedly said the two masked men shouted slurs, wrapped a rope around his neck and poured a substance on him. He also told detectives that the attackers yelled that he was in “Maga country,” an apparent reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan, police said.
Prosecutors initially charged Smollett with one felony count in February. A grand jury indicted him on 15 more counts earlier this month. But in a stunning reversal Tuesday, prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges, just five weeks after the allegations were filed.
In return, prosecutors said, the actor agreed to let the city keep his $10,000 in bail. During Thursday’s court hearing, prosecutors promised to notify media outlets if Smollett’s lawyers tried to expunge his record.
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