Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo have issued an apology through their attorney, claiming “tremendous regret” for their involvement in an incident that has stoked passions around the world and led to a major police investigation.
In a letter issued by their attorney, the brothers apologized for the negative impact the apparently staged crime may have had on people across the country, particularly victims of actual hate crimes.
“My clients have tremendous regret over their involvement in this situation, and they understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves,” the statement read.
Abel and Ola were seen on surveillance footage the night of the incident and later questioned by police. They were arrested by eventually released and have cooperated with the police investigation. It has not been revealed if they have been granted immunity from prosecution for their role in the apparent hoax.
Police contend Smollett paid the brothers to help him stage a false hate crime attack. The brothers knew him from working as extras on Empire and from a local Chicago gym. Smollett was arrested on Feb. 21 and was charged the same day with a felony count of disorderly conduct, which carries a sentence of up to three years in prison.
Text messages between Smollett and the Osundairo brothers were read in court and detailed how the attack was concocted. Smollett and his representatives maintain his innocence.
Smollett’s Jamal Lyon character has been dropped from the final two episodes of this season’s Empire.