Federal grand jury reportedly already convened, issued multiple subpoenas on Jussie Smollett fake mail threat sent to Fox 1/18/19
If the remarkable grassroots journalists at CWBChicago are correct (as they have been all along), Jussie Smollett has a lot more to worry about than the state rap of a class four felony of making a false police report. If he was indeed responsible for the sending of a letter to the Fox Chicago studios where Empire is produced, he has triggered federal charges that carry hard time. Importantly, the feds don't parole early to relieve overcrowded prisons the way the Great State of Illinois does.
You see, using the mail to make a threat that can be seen as a terroristic threat — even to oneself — is no small deal to Uncle Sam. And (don't laugh!) it brings in the most underrated federal law enforcement agency of all: the Postal Inspectors. Most people don't realize what a fearsome agency this is. CWBChicago recounts an anecdote about their tenacity, work ethic, and success rate, and it jibes with what I have learned about them. I happened to catch this excellent movie about the work of the Postal Inspectors, starring Louis Gossett, and hope it can be found on one of the digital streaming services, or maybe even run on one of the cable networks, when the federal case goes forward, if it does.
Using the U.S. Mail in furtherance of this hoax may have been the biggest blunder of all. Nobody wants the feds to Go Postal (Inspector) on him.
Read the whole thing, but here are some highlights:
On Friday, Jan. 18th, a letter was dropped into a mailbox in Chicago's southwest suburbs.
The envelope was addressed in childlike scrawl to Empire TV star Jussie Smollett at Cinespace Studios, a West Side production facility that the Fox program calls home. "MAGA" — the acronym for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign slogan "Make America Great Again" — was sloppily written in the return address space.
Four days later and about eleven miles away, the letter found its way to Smollett.
The letter, which was reported to the Chicago cops, triggered a federal investigation even before the hoax attack was carried out.
About a week after Smollett opened the letter, he told police that he had been beaten and kicked in Streeterville by two men who recognized him from Empire. They poured bleach on him and — in throwbacks to the threat letter — called him anti-gay, anti-black slurs while putting a noose around his neck and screaming "this is MAGA country," he said.
As Smollett reported the attack to police, a multi-agency federal investigation into the source of the threat letter was entering its seventh day.
Headed by the FBI's Chicago Field Office, the terroristic threat investigation is being assisted by one of America's oldest and most underestimated law enforcement agencies: The United States Postal Inspection Service.
Whoever sent the letter to Smollett may have considered the mail to be an untraceable way to deliver a message. They'd be mistaken.
"Those postal guys are the real deal," said a North Side cop who worked with inspectors on a serial package theft case in Lincoln Park last November. "They can do amazing things and aren't afraid of the work."
Since being created by Benjamin Franklin — yes, that Benjamin Franklin — the service has learned a few things about tracing mail-based crimes. Figuring out who mailed a letter has been made easier because, while most criminals know to wear gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints, most criminals also forget to leave their cellphones at home when they go to the mailbox.
Now get this:
Late Monday, CWBChicago received confirmation that the letter case has been before a federal grand jury and multiple subpoenas have been generated over the course of the investigation.
Okay, this is not nailed down on the public record, but if I had to bet, I'd say this is very likely to be true.
Depending on which terrorism statutes are invoked, the prison time could be substantial. Then there is the matter of all the statements (to police and media) that Smollett made after the hoax attack was carried out. They could well trigger federal obstruction of justice charges on top of the terroristic threat charges.
A month ago, Jussie Smollett was a B- or C-level celebrity, with plenty of friends in high places. That is gone forever. He might conceivably have gotten away with probation on the state charges, with his record of no previous infractions and overcrowded prisons. With feds involved, that is much less likely.