As Smollett faces multiple felony charges for supposedly staging the widely reviled assault at the end of January, the Chicago Police Department has now opened a probe into leaks that came from its officers and officials during the early days of the case.
“An internal investigation has been opened,” the Windy City’ cops’ Sgt. Rocco Alioto confirmed to Deadline on Friday.
“I would like to point out that a lot of the information out there was inaccurate and there were numerous agencies involved in this investigation,” Sgt. Alioto added, noting the presence of the FBI and others in the case. “As a standard procedure when there are allegations of information being leaked, an internal investigation has been opened and we are also looking at our vulnerabilities.”
That examination of vulnerabilities comes as the $100,000 bailed out Smollett is expected back in court later this month in a matter that could see him behind bars for up to three years if found guilty.
There is no doubt that tips and teasers were being dribbled out to the media constantly and speculation running rapid at times, as detectives started looking closer at what had initially be called a “potential hate crime.”
Amid sharp elbowed city politics and a new mayor, the newly launched CPD internal investigation also comes as several employees at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago were pink slipped recently for accessing the Empire actor’s hospital records. Smollett went to the hospital briefly after the alleged beating in the early hours of January 29 and being dosed with a chemical that turned out to be bleach.
Written out of the final episodes of the now wrapped fifth season of Empire, the professional fate of the actor looks to be innately connected to court proceedings. However, fans of the Lee Daniels and Danny Strong created hip hop drama will get to see Smollett soon. Empire is back for the second half of its latest season on March 13 – though people may be watching for more than the drama of the Lyon clan.
After Smollett was arrested on February 21, Chicago prosecutors read out in court a lengthy series of text messages between Smollett and brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo that painted a picture of a clearly pre-planned attack. The texts included preparing money to buy supplies, buying drugs, setting up meetings and ensuring that MAGA hats and chants were part of the assault.
Oddly, the case presented in court offered little on what had been the Chicago PD’s primary motive of Smollett’s potentially disgraceful actions.
As Smollett sat in an isolated cell awaiting his initial court appearance, Chicago Police stepped in front of the cameras on the morning of his arrest for what became a damning press conference. Highlighted by a openly “pissed”-off Superintendent Eddie Johnson, the police claimed Smollett “orchestrated this crime” and the attack last month to “promote his career” and get a pay raise by taking “advantage of the pain and anger of racism.”
There was actually little mention of such a pay raise in the courtroom that afternoon. Smollett is paid $100,000 an episode on Empire. Various sources have denied that Smollett, who was insisted on his innocence since posting bail, was seriously seeking a change in his compensation status.
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