Cops now think Jussie Smollett paid two men to stage last month’s alleged hate crime, sources say

With new reports citing law enforcement sources, the narrative continues to shift surrounding actor Jussie Smollett’s claims that he was the victim of a hate crime last month.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, two brothers were arrested earlier this week in connection with the “Empire” star’s allegations but were later released without charge. At that time, police downplayed rumors that the January 29 attack in Chicago was a hoax, saying there was “no evidence” that Smollett was involved in planning the alleged assault.

According to WPIX, the two men are fully cooperating with investigators.

Police reportedly believe Smollett paid the men to perpetrate the attack, which he told police had been carried out by assailants “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.”

The sources who spoke to CNN say police have evidence that the brothers purchased a rope later found around Smollett’s neck from a local Ace Hardware location.

Smollett addressed the controversy around his story in an interview on “Good Morning America” this week, blaming racism for the incredulity of some critics.

“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more,” he said. “And that says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now.”

Illinois prosecutor-turned-defense attorney Michael Monico, who represents President Donald Trump’s disgraced former lawyer Michael Cohen, confirmed this week that he is now representing Smollett, as previously reported by CrimeOnline.

It was not clear from his statement how long the actor has been a client nor what the scope of his representation covers.

[Featured image: Jussie Smollett, Victoria Will/Invision/AP]