Chicago police provided a six-night hotel stay with separate rooms and 24-hour security to two brothers who said they were paid by “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett to stage a racist, anti-gay attack on him, according to investigative reports released Wednesday to several media outlets.
The hotel rooms were part of an effort to avoid the media last month as detectives investigated Smollett’s report that he was assaulted in January by a pair of men in downtown Chicago, the reports said.
The heavily redacted reports blacked out the names of Abimbola Osundairo and Olabinjo Osundairo, but the context makes it clear that the brothers were put up from Feb. 15 to Feb. 21 at the Chicago South Loop Hotel near the city’s McCormick Place convention center. Police paid for the hotel and the security. “Assistance for food and incidentals were also provided,” one report said.
Police met with the men at the hotel, stopped at restaurants to get meals for them and drove the pair and their attorney to court, taking them into the courthouse through a back entrance to avoid the media, according to the reports.
A judge on Wednesday sealed the investigative documents, and police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said he was awaiting a written copy of the order to determine if he could comment, including disclosing how much the stay cost the department.
After learning that prosecutors had dropped charges against Smollett, a furious Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the $10,000 bond payment that Smollett agreed to forfeit did not begin to reimburse the city for the costs of the investigation, which began Jan. 29.
That’s when Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed he was attacked and beaten by two masked men who shouted slurs and yelled, “This is MAGA country,” an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Smollett also said the men doused him with a chemical and put a noose around his neck. He told a detective that at least one of the attackers was white, according to Chicago police.
After using surveillance cameras and other methods, police identified the Osundairo brothers as suspects and learned that they had flown to Nigeria the same day as the reported attack.
The men were arrested Feb. 13 at O’Hare Airport but within two days were released without charges after detailing the alleged plot orchestrated by Smollett. The deal included a $3,500 payment to help stage the attack, which Smollett hoped would help promote his career, police said.
The brothers were taken to the hotel after their release, when police found out news organizations were at the men’s residence, according to one investigative report.
Cook County First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats told reporters that he still believes Smollett staged the attack but prosecutors dropped the case because they needed to focus on violent crimes. Besides forfeiting his bond payment, Smollett also did community service, Magats said.