Race & Identity
Banking Records Cast Doubt On Narrative Jussie Smollett Paid Two Brothers To Attack Him
A check Smollett sent to the brothers suggests he wanted their help getting fit.
Update (February 25, 2019): It is now believed the check Jussie Smollett used to pay Abel and Ola Osundairo may not have had anything to do with the staged attack.
TMZ obtained a copy of the check, and the memo section reads: "5 week Nutrition/Workout program Don't Go.” The check is dated January 23, six days before the incident.
Sources told the tabloid the payment was for a workout plan to help Smollett get in shape before filming the music video for his single “Don’t Go.” The Empire star wanted to be shirtless in the video and hoped to lose 20 pounds before filming. In addition to being aspiring actors, the Osundairos are known for their fitness acumen. The shoot was scheduled for February 23.
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ABC News has acquired screenshots of text messages between Smollett and Abel, who the actor refers to as Bon. They show Abel reminding Smollett to do cardio; the pair also discuss a meal plan.
Despite the new developments, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson said he stands by the harsh scolding he gave Smollett during a press conference last week.
"Let me tell, you, Robin, there’s a lot more evidence that hasn’t been presented yet, and does not support the version he gave," Johnson told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America. "There’s still a lot of physical evidence, video evidence and testimony that just simply does not support his version of what happened."
Chicago's top police officer continued, "It's important for people to recognize that it's not the Chicago Police Department saying he did something, it's the evidence, the facts and the witnesses that are saying this."
Original: Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson was certain actor Jussie Smollett orchestrated his alleged hate-fueled attack in January by mailing himself a letter laced with racist and homophobic language. Now, the FBI is contradicting those claims, and sources tell TMZ they may not be factual.
Blavity reported Smollett turned himself into Chicago authorities Friday morning on charges he falsified a police report. The Empire star alleged two individuals wearing MAGA hats assaulted him on January 29. He was released on $100,000 bail shortly after, and Johnson delivered an emphatic message criticizing the activist for leading law enforcement astray.
"The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary," Johnson told reporters. "So he concocted a story about being attacked."
Anonymous sources from the FBI told TMZ that investigations into who sent the letter are ongoing, and they have no new developments at this time. However, there remain assumptions the two Nigerian brothers Smollett supposedly hired to act out the crime -- Abel and Ola Osundairo -- may have pieced together the memo sent to Fox's Empire office. Per the entertainment site, law enforcement rifled through their apartment and discovered magazines with several pages removed.
Complex writes the feds are working alongside the Chicago Police Department to solve this case, however, they believe Johnson may have been a little overzealous naming Smollett as the primary suspect.
"I think he [Johnson] went too far. We're not there yet," the anonymous source said.
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