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‘Empire’ producers say Jussie Smollett’s character removed from final two episodes

CHICAGO — Producers of “Empire” say Jussie Smollett’s character will be removed from the final two episodes of this season.

The decision comes after Smollett was officially charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report, officials announced on Wednesday.

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office said Smollett filed the false police report claiming he was attacked on Jan. 29. A court hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. CT Thursday.

Earlier on Wednesday, Smollett “officially classified” a suspect in a criminal investigation for allegedly filing a false police report, according to a tweet from Chicago police spokesman Officer Anthony Guglielmi.

A Cook County grand jury was hearing evidence just weeks after the young actor reported being the victim of a hate crime on January 29, the police spokesman said. Filing a false police report is a Class 4 felony.

Smollett’s transformation from victim to suspect in a reported crime that captured national headlines came on the same day that a high-ranking police source said Chicago detectives were working to obtain the actor’s financial records.

Investigators also have sought to ask the actor additional questions about the attack.

Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, Smollett’s attorneys said in a statement, “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

His attorneys met with Cook County prosecutors earlier in the day, according to police spokesman Tom Ahern. But a source close to actor’s team told CNN that he has not given police a follow-up interview and no such meeting is scheduled.

Smollett told authorities that two men attacked him, putting a rope around his neck and pouring an unknown chemical substance on him.

The actor denies playing a role in his attack, according to his attorneys.

In a statement before Smollett was named a suspect, 20th Century Fox Television, which produces the series “Empire” on which Smollett appears, and Fox Entertainment expressed support for the actor.

“Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show,” the statement said.

Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation have told CNN that police believe Smollett paid two brothers to orchestrate an assault on him.

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