UPDATE: On April 23, the Osundario brothers filed a federal defamation lawsuit against Jussie Smollett’s attorneys, Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian, contending that the pair falsely claimed in media appearances that the brothers were responsible for the attack.
Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo were unknown to most of the world until recently, when authorities revealed that the brothers — who are known as “Abel” and “Ola” — were intimately involved in the alleged bogus attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
Prosecutors said Thursday that Abimbola Osundairo and Smollett became friends in Fall 2017 after they met while working on “Empire,” where Abel Osundairo, 25, played a stand-in for a character that was Smollett’s character’s love interest on the show.
They socialized, worked out together and Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo would, on occasion, sell the drug ecstasy to Smollett. An attorney for Smollett said one had served as the actor’s personal trainer.
The Osundairo brothers have so far proven to be crucial to the prosecution’s case, flipping on Smollett and detailing the alleged scheme to police after they were arrested last week but ultimately released without facing charges.
Public records paint a picture of two men in dire financial straits. Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, 27, was also no stranger to violence. Their attorney did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Court records show that Olabinjo Osundairo was charged with attempted murder in a 2011 stabbing that occurred in the 4200 block of North Ashland. That is less than a block from the home that police raided in the Smollett investigation, where they recovered personal effects, including cell phones, a source said.
Olabinjo Osundairo reached a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to aggravated battery; he was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $674 fine. His attorney in that case did not respond to interview requests.
Both men, who are two of five siblings, previously played college football at Quincy University, according to the school’s athletics website.
Court records show both men filed for bankruptcy in September 2016 and collectively owed more than $120,000 in student loans.
At the time, neither brother reported having a full-time job. Their monthly incomes, they said, were $160 and $142, which they earned from various odd jobs.
The two also started a party and decoration business in 2015, “The B’s Osundairo,” that they operated out of a South Side building owned by their parents, records show. Their parents could not be reached for comment.
The business was “operating at a loss” at the time of the filing and was dissolved last May, court and state business records show.
Abimbola Osundairo, in his bankruptcy filing, claimed an interest in investing. He reported that he owned four shares of a pharmaceutical company, one share of Berkshire Hathaway and one share of Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce company. He valued the shares at $300 at the time, though a single share of Berkshire Hathaway was worth more than $200,000 at the time of the filing.
In 2017, Olabinjo Osundairo co-founded a home remodeling company. In his bio on the company’s website, he says he has three degrees, including a master’s degree in business and a bachelor’s degree in management. The other company co-founder could not be reached.
Both brothers are avid bodybuilding enthusiasts and workout frequently at XSport Fitness in Lake View.Abimbola Osundairo has also ventured into boxing. In one video on his YouTube page he’s shown winning a boxing match at Brooks Park on the Northwest Side. The video description says it was “Bola’s first fight.”A trainer at XSport said the men have been among the most polite guests in the two years he’s known them.
“They’ve never shown anything other than being good human beings,” the trainer said.
Contributing: Nader Issa