Less than a day after saying they would no longer cooperate with Cook County prosecutors, two central figures in the Jussie Smollett saga are back on board, their attorney said Thursday.
Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, the lawyer for Abel and Ola Osundairo, said in a statement Thursday that the brothers would resume cooperating because of an “intervention” by special prosecutor Dan Webb. A representative for Webb’s law firm, Winston & Strawn, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday, the Osundairos backed away from their cooperation in the case after the Chicago Police Department was unable to find and return a gun that was confiscated from the Osundairos’ home in February 2019. At the time, the brothers were viewed as suspects, but have since turned into witnesses for Webb.
Abel Osundairo had told CBS 2 Chicago that he and his brother would not willingly testify in the case against the former “Empire” actor because items collected during a police search of their apartment, including a 9mm gun inside a safe, hadn’t been returned.
“I would understand if we were defendants in the case, which we are not,” Abel Osundairo told CBS 2 hours before Schmidt Rodriguez issued her statement.
Abel Osundairo said he is a licensed gun owner and that many of the things confiscated by police belong to his brother and other relatives.
“Due to the intervention of Special Prosecutor Dan Webb and his team, earlier today we were informed that a properly registered 9mm handgun that was missing from a locked safe seized by the Chicago Police Department on February 14, 2019, has been located,” Schmidt Rodriguez said in her statement. “Abel and Ola will recommence their cooperation in the Smollett case now that the handgun has been produced by the Special Prosecutor’s office.”
Earlier this month, Judge James Linn ruled the latest criminal case against Smollett did not constitute double jeopardy. Linn said Smollett’s previous case never led to an admission of guilt and the actor was never punished, so the new charges would not violate his right against double jeopardy.
Smollett was accused of making a false report to Chicago police and was indicted in March 2019 on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying about being attacked in a hate crime. Weeks later, the state’s attorney’s office abruptly dropped the charges, sparking outrage and confusion. Nearly a year later — in February — Smollett was indicted again by Webb, who has criticized State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s decision to dismiss the initial charges.
Contributing: Michael Sneed