Former US Attorney Appointed Special Prosecutor in Smollett Case

State's Attorney accused of mishandling the case

Jussie Smollett, Wikimedia Commons

Former U.S. attorney Dan Webb was named on Friday morning special prosecutor overseeing the investigation into the handling of the Jussie Smollett case.

Webb gained national prominence for prosecuting the findings of Operation Greylord, a 1980s federal investigation which examined judicial corruption in Cook County, Illinois. Webb also served as special counsel in the Iran-Contra affair.

Smollett was originally charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct in February for allegedly orchestrating an incident in January in which he paid a pair of masked men to attack him on a Chicago street, place a noose around his neck, and shout racist and homophobic epithets at him. Smollett also said that the two men shouted "This is MAGA country." A police investigation revealed evidence that Smollett had hired the men to fake the crime.

Charges against Smollett were dropped in March without explanation, and the record of the case was sealed. Smollett was only required to forfeit the $10,000 bond he had already paid the city.

At the time, Smollett's attorneys claimed the arrangement showed their client was "a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator." Additionally, the state's attorney's office released a statement reading, "After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case."

The decision provoked outrage from Chicago police, according to local journalists. And immediately after the announcement, the Chicago police union called for a federal investigation into Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's handling of the case.

In June, Cook County judge Michael Toomin suggested in a ruling that Foxx had mishandled the case by appointing one of her top aides to oversee it after recusing herself in February, according to the Chicago Fox affiliate.