Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to lying about attack

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The actor was arrested February 21, and police said at a media briefing that Smollett had faked the attack because he was "dissatisfied" with his salary for playing Jamal Lyon on "Empire".

Presiding Criminal Court Judge LeRoy Martin allowed a camera in the courtroom for Thursday's arraignment, but it will be up to Watkins, Smollett's trial judge, to decide whether cameras will be in court for future hearings.

Smollett is expected to enter his plea before Watkins after a short recess.

Smollett maintains his innocence. Chicago police say the money was for the staged attack, while Smollett claims it was for a five-week nutrition and workout program, as noted in the check's memo.

Smollett has been indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct by a Cook County grand jury. Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed his alleged attackers used racial and homophobic slurs, hung a rope around his neck and tossed bleach on him before fleeing.

Fox cut Smollett's character in "Empire" after he was arrested. Geragos continues, "This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie's privacy in tampering with his medical records". The men were released without being charged.

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"There has been a lot of misinformation in this case that has been presented as fact and evidence against Mr. Smollett, which is demonstrably false", said Tina Glandian, the attorney for the actor.

In a searing live press conference on that same day, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said it was "shameful' what Smollett allegedly try to pull off and accused him of perpetuating a "hoax".

Smollett is now facing 16 felony counts.

"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time of this transmission there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed", the indictment states. The judge granted a $100,000 bail, and Smollett paid a $10,000 bond.

It has already been announced that Smollett's character won't appear in the final two episodes of the season, and TMZ reports it will be explained that he is "out of the country".

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