CHICAGO (WLS) – Jussie Smollett spent his first night behind bars after a judge sentenced him to five months in prison for a fake hate crime.
Thursday’s session ended in a big way as Smollett rose from his seat and declared his innocence and concern for his safety.
Watch | Jussie Smollett’s emotional outburst in court
The 39-year-old was silent and stunned his family and others in the courtroom when Cook County Judge James Lane delivered the verdict.
“You will serve the first 150 days of your sentence in Cook County Jail, and that day will begin. Here, now,” said Judge Lane.
In considering the sentencing, Lane said that Smollett’s “extreme” premeditation to commit the crime was an aggravating factor. He also said that the actor had defamed the experiences of real hate crime victims, calling him a “charlatan” and a liar.
“You went up on the witness stand. You didn’t have to. You did it. You certainly had a right to it. But you committed hour after hour after hour of perjury,” said Lin.
Watch | Judge Lin’s full comments on the verdict
While in prison, Smollett also began 30 months of probation in addition to being ordered to pay more than $120,000 in damages to the City of Chicago and a $25,000 fine.
Then the disgraced representative addressed the court.
“I’m not suicidal,” Smollett said. “I’m not a suicide! I’m innocent! And I’m not a suicide. If I do this, it means I got my fist in the fears of black Americans in this country for 400 years and the fears of the LGBTQ community. Honor, I respect you, and I respect the jury, but I didn’t do this, and I’m not suicide.” And if anything happened to me when I got in there, I didn’t do it myself!
The verdict came three months after Smollett was found guilty of five felony charges of disorderly conduct for lying to Chicago police.
“I didn’t think it would take this long, but the judge made it clear that he sees this crime as more than a simple felony, he sees it as harming hate crime victims everywhere,” said ABC7 legal analyst Gil Souffer.
Smollett was still proclaiming his innocence as he was taken out of court after the verdict was pronounced.
“I am innocent!” He said. “I could have said I was guilty a long time ago!”
Watch | Family defends Jussie Smollett’s innocence after sentencing
The ruling infuriated the Smollett family, who criticized the judge after the sentencing.
“My brother Josie is innocent, and this shouldn’t be a controversial statement because it’s the ultimate truth,” Josie’s sister, Jazz Smollett, said.
“My brother was disgraced,” said Josie Smollett, Josie’s brother. “Talk about his arrogance. He doesn’t know the suffering my brother is going through.”
Meanwhile, Special Prosecutor Dan Webb praised the judge.
“This was a course of behavior that deserved severe punishment,” Webb said. “I thought it was the right way to do it. And I think based on his sentencing, Judge Lin clearly understood what happened in this case.”
Smollett’s defense team said they were stunned and vowed to appeal.
“I have never seen in my entire career as a lawyer, and none of the other lawyers here have seen a situation where a fourth-degree felony gets the same treatment as a violent crime,” defense attorney Nene Uchi said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot applauded the judge’s ruling, writing: “Josie Smollett’s criminal conviction by a fellow jury and sentencing today should send a clear message to everyone in the city of Chicago that false allegations and allegations will not be tolerated. The malicious and fabricated allegations have been fully led Smollett has provided more than 1,500 hours of police work that has cost the city more than $130,000 in overtime police work. The city feels that its judgment today has been validated in that he will be held accountable and that we will receive appropriate compensation for his actions.”
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