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Former ‘Empire’ actor, Jussie Smollett jailed for lying to police in hate crime hoax

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Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced Thursday to 30 months of felony probation, including 150 days in jail, and ordered to pay restitution of more than $120,000 and a $25,000 fine for making false reports to police that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019.

After the judge announced his sentence, Smollett lowered his face mask and said he was innocent, CNN reports.

“Your honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I did not do this,” the actor told the judge, before turning to the court. “And I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.”

Just before he was taken into custody, the actor yelled again that he was innocent and raised a fist in the air.

Cook County Judge James Linn spoke for more than 30 minutes before announcing Smollett’s sentence, telling the actor that he wrote the script and picked the actors for the hoax, and that his premeditation for the act was an “aggravating factor” in the case.

“There’s a side of you that has this arrogance, and selfishness and narcissism that’s just disgraceful,” the judge said. “You’re not a victim of a racial hate crime, you’re not a victim of a homophobic hate crime. You’re just a charlatan pretending to be a victim of a hate crime, and that’s shameful.”

Smollett, 39, was found guilty in December on five counts of felony disorderly conduct for making false reports about what he said was an anti-gay and anti-Black hate crime.

The actor, who is Black and gay, told Chicago police that on a frigid night in January 2019 two unknown men attacked him, yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, poured bleach on him and wrapped a noose around his neck.

Celebrities and politicians rushed to defend him publicly, and Chicago police investigated the case as a possible hate crime. But they soon determined the actor orchestrated the incident and paid two brothers he knew from the Fox drama “Empire” to stage the incident for publicity.

Smollett maintained his innocence under oath during the trial, but the jury convicted him on five of six felony charges after nine hours of deliberations.

While a conviction for disorderly conduct for a false crime report is punishable by up to three years in prison, it is rare for a judge to sentence an offender with no prior felony convictions to prison time for the charge.

Prosecutors on Thursday urged the judge to give Smollett an “appropriate” sentence, pointing to the fact that the actor has never taken responsibility for his actions and saying he may have hurt the efforts of real hate crime victims to come forward.

Smollett’s attorneys argued that he should be given a more lenient punishment such as probation, citing his lack of criminal history and community service he has performed. They read several letters which attested to that part of his life. Before announcing the sentence, the judge also spoke of the leading figures in social justice circles that asked for a lenient sentence for Smollett.

“You do have quite a record of real community service and quite a record of attaching with people,” the judge said. “I’m mindful of pleas of mercy, particularly from people that are in the arena.”

But ultimately, the judge said, this act showed Smollett’s “dark side.”

Smollett attorney Tina Glandian also argued the guilty verdict should be overturned and a new trial granted based on legal errors leading up to and during the trial. Judge Linn denied the defense’s request, saying he believed Smollett received a fair trial.

‘He shamed my brother’

In a news conference following the sentencing, Smollett’s brother, Jojo Smollett, told reporters he was disappointed with the outcome.

“He shamed my brother. He spoke about his arrogance,” Jojo Smollett said. “He doesn’t know the struggles my brother is encountering. He doesn’t know anything that he’s dealing with.”

Chicago Police body camera footage from the night of the incident showed Smollett with a noose still around his neck. He testified that he removed the noose after the attack but then put it back on to show police.

Jazz Smollett, the actor’s sister, called the decision a “miscarriage of justice.”

“My brother is innocent,” Smollett’s sister said. “This should not be a controversial statement because it is the absolute truth.”

Special Prosecutor Daniel Webb said he was “extraordinarily pleased” with the sentence, adding that Smollett’s “conduct denigrated hate crimes.” Webb said the judge’s comments showed “he clearly has understood … that this was a course of conduct that deserved severe punishment.”

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CELEBRITIES

Kourtney Kardashian wears black veil and black dress with a picture of the Virgin Mary as she prepares to wed Travis Barker in Italy

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Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker, who got married legally last week in California, are set for their third and most lavish wedding in Italy.

On Saturday, May 21, the Kardashian/Jenner family had lunch on board Dolce & Gabbana’s luxury yacht in Portofino and sailed around the Italian Riviera.

Kourtney wore black Dolce & Gabbana mini dress bearing an image of the Virgin Mary, paired with a short black veil with blue lace trim, black gloves and matching strappy sandals. Travis wore a full-length black robe.

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“Congratulations” Chris Brown writes after his ex-girlfriend Rihanna welcomed a baby boy with A$AP Rocky

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Chris Brown has taken to his Instagram Story to drop a congratulatory message after it was announced that Rihanna has welcomed a baby boy.

“Congratulations,” he wrote, alongside an emoji of a pregnant woman.

Chris Brown and Rihanna dated on and off.  Their relationship initially ended in 2009 after Chris physically assaulted Rihanna. Then, they got back together again years later and finally split for good.

Chris has gone on to welcome 3 children from 3 different women.

This is Rihanna and A$AP Rocky’s first child.

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Davido hosts American rapper, DaBaby, in Lagos

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American rapper, Jonathan Lyndale Kirk popularly referred to as DaBaby got into Lagos from Germany for a music video shoot with Nigerian music star Davido.

The famous rapper posted numerous videos on his Instagram page while exploring the city of Lagos. First, he visited a Nike shoe store where he bought a few sneakers, then, he shared a video of himself among a crowd of Lagosians, before entering his vehicle.

Also, he sprayed some amount of dollars to the crowd whereafter a man from the crowd warned him to hold his phone tight.

Some minutes later, the artist shared a video of him with Davido in his Lamborghini, DaBaby asked “where are we going” and Davido replied, saying “tonight, I will show you Lagos”.

Davido also posted on his social media platforms to confirm the arrival of DaBaby in Nigeria. He wrote: “My boy finna touch down the Motherland.”

The American rapper also referred to Nigeria as his home.

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