Smollett's lawyer warns Chicago not to sue 'Empire' actor

CHICAGO (AP) — An attorney for Jussie Smollett has written a letter warning that if Chicago follows through on its vow to sue the "Empire" actor for the cost of the investigation into his claim that he was attacked, he'll demand sworn testimony from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the police chief and others.

In a letter dated April 4 — the same day the city announced that it was drafting a lawsuit for $130,106 — celebrity defense attorney Mark Geragos wrote that Smollett will "not be intimidated" by what he calls "threats that were made maliciously."

The threatened lawsuit and stern response mark the latest chapter in a story that has taken a number of strange twists since Smollett first reported in January that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two masked men in downtown Chicago. And it is the clearest indication yet that — despite the prosecutors' stunning announcement last month that they were dropping the 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct against the actor — the saga is far from over.

The city, which still adamantly contends that Smollett concocted the story and paid two brothers to stage the attack, said the lawsuit will be filed "in the near future" if Smollett doesn't pay for the hours of work detectives spent chasing down leads, collecting surveillance video and talking to potential witnesses. But Smollett just as adamantly denies the allegations and Geragos' letter doubles down on that denial, saying the claim that Smollett "filed a false police report and orchestrated his own attack is false and defamatory."

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Jussie Smollett protestors on the streets of Chicago
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Jussie Smollett protestors on the streets of Chicago
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 01: Protestors organized by the Fraternal Order of Police call for the removal of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx on April 01, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Foxx has been under fire after her office worked out a deal to drop felony charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 01: Protestors organized by the Fraternal Order of Police call for the removal of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx on April 01, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Foxx has been under fire after her office worked out a deal to drop felony charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 01: Protestors organized by the Fraternal Order of Police call for the removal of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx on April 01, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Foxx has been under fire after her office worked out a deal to drop felony charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 01: Protestors organized by the Fraternal Order of Police call for the removal of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx on April 01, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Foxx has been under fire after her office worked out a deal to drop felony charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 01: Protestors organized by the Fraternal Order of Police call for the removal of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx on April 01, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Foxx has been under fire after her office worked out a deal to drop felony charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 01: Supporters of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx (L) argue with protestors during a demonstration organized by the Fraternal Order of Police to call for Foxx's removal on April 01, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Foxx has been under fire after her office worked out a deal to drop felony charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 01: Supporters of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx argue with protestors during a demonstration organized by the Fraternal Order of Police to call for Foxx's removal on April 01, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Foxx has been under fire after her office worked out a deal to drop felony charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 01: Police stand guard as supporters of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx argue with protestors during a demonstration organized by the Fraternal Order of Police to call for Foxx's removal on April 01, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Foxx has been under fire after her office worked out a deal to drop felony charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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Geragos also said he will demand sworn depositions from the two brothers who told police that Smollett paid them to stage the attack, as well as their attorney and their attorney's husband. He said he will also demand all the paperwork generated in the investigation.

The letter, first obtained by the Chicago Tribune, was distributed Friday morning to the Associated Press and other media organizations by the city's law department. The department did not immediately comment on the contents of the letter.

A legal battle between Smollett and the city could answer the question observers in the city and around the country have been asking for the last several days: Why did Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office, without explanation and without telling the police they were about to do so, dismiss the charges after securing a 16-count grand jury indictment and despite their contention that Smollett had, in fact, orchestrated the attack?

A judge has sealed the court file at the request of Smollett's attorneys, and has said he will announce next month his decision on whether to unseal the file at the request of several media organizations, including The Associated Press.

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'Empire' star Jussie Smollett during court appearances
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'Empire' star Jussie Smollett during court appearances
Empire actor Jussie Smollett arrives a news conference after a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Chicago. Smollett attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a Tuesday morning statement that Smollett's record "has been wiped clean." Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs. (AP Photo/Amanda Seitz)
Empire actor Jussie Smollett appears with a fan as he walks out of the Leighton Criminal Court Building after a hearing Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Chicago. Smollett attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement Tuesday that Smollett's record "has been wiped clean." Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs. (AP Photo/Amanda Seitz)
Actor Jussie Smollett exits courtroom 101 into the hallway at the Leighton Criminal Court Building following an emergency hearing over his disorderly conduct charges on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
US television actor Jussie Smollett attends Leighton Criminal Court with his attorney Tina Glandian (L) on March 14, 2019, in Chicago. - Smollett pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges he lied to police about being the victim of a racist, homophobic hate crime. The 36-year-old actor was charged with 16 felony counts last week for allegedly masterminding a false attack to gain publicity and win a bigger paycheck. (Photo by E. Jason Wambsgans / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read E. JASON WAMBSGANS/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Actor Jussie Smollett leaves Leighton Criminal Courthouse after his court appearance on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the Fox television drama 'Empire.' (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
US television actor Jussie Smollett attends Leighton Criminal Court with his attorney Tina Glandian (L) on March 14, 2019, in Chicago. - Smollett pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges he lied to police about being the victim of a racist, homophobic hate crime. The 36-year-old actor was charged with 16 felony counts last week for allegedly masterminding a false attack to gain publicity and win a bigger paycheck. (Photo by E. Jason Wambsgans / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read E. JASON WAMBSGANS/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Actor Jussie Smollett (C) leaves Leighton Criminal Courthouse after his court appearance on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the Fox television drama 'Empire.' (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the Fox television drama 'Empire.' (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the Fox television drama 'Empire.' (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the Fox television drama 'Empire.' (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the Fox television drama 'Empire.' (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Actor Jussie Smollett(C) and team arrive for a court hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 12, 2019 in Chicago. - A Chicago grand jury on March 8, 2019 indicted American actor Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts after allegedly lying to police about being the victim of a racist, homophobic hate crime. Police say Smollett -- who gained fame on Fox musical drama 'Empire' -- staged the attack in a bid to gain publicity and a bigger paycheck. (Photo by DEREK HENKLE / AFP) (Photo credit should read DEREK HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)
Actor Jussie Smollett(C) and team arrive for a court hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 12, 2019 in Chicago. - A Chicago grand jury on March 8, 2019 indicted American actor Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts after allegedly lying to police about being the victim of a racist, homophobic hate crime. Police say Smollett -- who gained fame on Fox musical drama 'Empire' -- staged the attack in a bid to gain publicity and a bigger paycheck. (Photo by Nova SAFO / AFP) (Photo credit should read NOVA SAFO/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 21: Empire actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail after posting bond on February 21, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett has been accused with arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 21: Empire actor Jussie Smollett (partially obscured) leaves Cook County jail after posting bond on February 21, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett has been accused with arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
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Given that the case was active only a matter of weeks, that file is likely very slim. But the investigative file could contain information such as texts between Smollett and the brothers that would reveal exactly why what started as a possible hate crime investigation against the black and openly gay actor turned into a criminal investigation of him.

It would also bring renewed attention to Foxx, whose office dismissed the charges after she recused herself from the case because of communications between her and a relative of Smollett. Foxx has come under intense criticism for her handling of the case, as well as the investigation that led to sexual abuse charges against R&B; star R. Kelly . This week more than two dozen suburban Chicago police chiefs joined the president of the Chicago police union in demanding that Foxx resign.

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