Gloria Schmidt, the lawyer representing the two brothers “Empire” star Jussie Smollett is accused of hiring to stage an attack against him, says a key piece of evidence is “more nuanced” than many people realize.
Smollett’s $3,500 check to Abimbola Osundairo says in the memo line that it was for “5 Week Nutrition/Workout Program (Don’t Go),” according to a copy received by ABC News. (“Don’t Go” is the name of a song Smollett says he was getting ready to shoot a music video for.)
Chicago police, however, said the check was payment for Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo to attack Smollett on Jan. 29.
But Schmidt told TheWrap on Wednesday that the check was for both the attack and the training.
“The idea of them getting paid by Jussie for the training actually occurred before… this Jan. 29 thing happened,” she said. “When he went to pay them, was when he [asked] for this favor.”
“So it’s like a wink-wink, nudge-nudge, ‘Can you do this for me?'” Schmidt said. “‘Here’s payment for the other thing we talked about.'”
Asked if she knows how much of the money was for training and how much was for the attack, she said she had never though of it in “that binary way.”
The Osundairo brothers were taken into custody by Chicago police after the attack but were released after two days and have not been charged with any crimes. Schmidt said her clients have “fully cooperated” and will still “fully cooperate” with the ongoing case, adding that she does not believe them to be in legal jeopardy.
“Are they in legal peril? Am I nervous for them? No,” she said. “You only need immunity when you’re facing unrelated charges on things … No promises were made, no deals were cut. They wanted to be truth-tellers in the story.”
Smollett was indicted by a grand jury last week on 16 felony counts after allegedly lying to police about the incident, in which he said he was randomly attacked by two men shouting racial and homophobic slurs in his Chicago neighborhood. The Osundario brothers are from the north side of Chicago.
Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett staged the attack because he was displeased with his pay on the Fox hip-hop soap opera “Empire.”
Schmidt denied that that detail came from her client’s conversations with police. “[They] never once… touched on what was Jussie’s motive,” she said Wednesday. “My clients would not know what he was thinking or how far back he was planning something.”
“We have not been asked to do anything further in terms of the state’s investigation or their case,” she added.