A judge has ordered Google to turn over former Empire star Jussie Smollett‘s private photographs, emails, messages, and location data to a special prosecutor investigating why the Cook County State Attorney’s Office suddenly dismissed all charges against the actor.
Cook County Judge Michael Toomin has signed off on two warrants seeking information, including unsent email drafts, deleted messages, and other data stored on the Google Drives of both Smollett and the actor’s manager.
Smollett’s problems began in Jan. 2019 when the actor claimed he was attacked in Chicago by two masked Trump supporters for being a gay, black man. But Smollett’s hate crime turned out to be a complete hoax, with the two so-called attackers revealing that Smollett had actually hired them to help stage the fake crime.
The actor’s publicity stunt cost the city of Chicago a whole lot of time and money, including nearly 1900 hours in police overtime work.
A grand jury returned a 16-count felony indictment against the actor back in Mar. 2019, but Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx inexplicably dropped the charges and reportedly wiped clean Smollett’s record.
That angered city officials and the police, and leading Judge Michael Toomin to appoint special prosecutor Dan Webb to look into Foxx’s decision.
Toomin signed the new search warrants for Google on Dec. 6, 2019, ordering the company’s “representatives, agents and employees” not to disclose his order to turn over the records, saying that to do so “may jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation.”
Investigators are hoping that the data, which encompasses large swaths of time before and after the attack, may shed light on whether the incident was premeditated, and whether Smollett and his manager had any correspondence with each other or anyone else, particularly after the charges against him were dropped, which would implicate them.
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