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Judge Orders Appointment of Special Prosecutor in Jussie Smollett Case, Additional Prosecution Back on the Table

By Daniel Goldblatt

A Cook County judge on Friday ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor in the Jussie Smollett case, which could lead to new charges against the "Empire" star.

Chicago Tribune reporter Megan Crepeau was in this morning's hearing, where Judge Michael Toomin ruled that when State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case, she did not have the authority to appoint her replacement.

Crepeau reported that the special prosecutor may further prosecute Smollett and quoted the judge as saying if they have "reasonable grounds to believe that any other criminal offense was committed ... special prosecutor may commence the prosecution of any crime as may be suspected."

The judge's ruling stated that the special prosecutor was to be appointed so as to "restore the public's confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system."

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At the time, Foxx said she recused herself after she had conversations with a relative of Smollett's before he was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly faking the attack against himself.

First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats took over the case and prosecutors ended up dropping all charges against Smollett after the “Empire” star. He performed 16 hours of community service and agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail but did not admit any guilt in the alleged incident.

It was later revealed that two weeks before the charges were dropped, Foxx texted her staff and called Smollett a “washed-up celeb who lied to cops.” She also told them he was being charged too harshly.

Critics have said that if Foxx truly recused herself of the case, it would have been handed over to a state’s attorney from a different county.

More Trouble for 'Empire' Stars

Actor Bryshere Gray was the latest "Empire" star to get in trouble with the law after being arrested in Chicago earlier this month.

According to court records obtained by The Blast, the 25-year-old Gray was arrested by the Chicago Police Department after being pulled over by law enforcement.

The arrest went down on June 13, 2019 at around 10:37 AM.

The actor was charged with three minor offenses relating to his driving record. He was arrested by police and booked into a local jail where his mug shot was taken. He was released the same day after paying $2,000 bond. His official release time is listed as 4:00 PM.

Giphy | HULU

Fellow co-star Terrence Howard is also facing his own issues with him being under criminal investigation for alleged tax evasion. The case stems out of the United States Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and is still ongoing.

We've learned that the actor has hired a high profile white collar criminal attorney to defend him in the investigation. Our sources say within the last few weeks, federal investigators have already had initial discussions with Howard.

Terrence Howard and his fiancée became aware they were under investigation on May 20, 2019.

The actor has had his share of tax issues over the years. As The Blast first reported, he was hit with a tax lien in April by the State of California Franchise Tax Board for a total $143,538.61. The lien stems from taxes Howard reportedly owes from 2010.

"Empire" co-creator Lee Daniels put the nail in the coffin of Jussie Smollett's run on the show after Variety posted a story saying the writer's room of the show was preparing for the embattled star's return for the second half of the final season.

"This is not factual," Daniels tweeted. "Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire."

Daniels ducked the question about Smollett’s future on the show in April and refused to commit to an answer, instead saying, “That’s a conversation we’re having right now.”

Smollett's status on the show had been up in the air ever since he was accused of faking an attack on himself earlier this year. He was charged over the incident but the charges were ultimately dropped.

The network had previously announced that "there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to ‘Empire.'"

Smollett's rep said in April, "We’ve been told Jussie will not be on ‘Empire’ in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open."

Smollett was suspended from the fifth season’s final two episodes back in February.

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