Jussie Smollett 16 Count Indictment is 'Overkill' Says Attorney Mark Geragos

3/8/2019 5:30 PM PST

Jussie Smollett's Attorney Calls 16 Count Grand Jury Indictment 'Overkill'

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5:30 PM PT -- Jussie's attorney, Mark Geragos, just released a scathing response to the indictment, telling us, "The fact of an indictment was not unexpected. We knew that there is no way they would expose their evidence to a public airing and subject their witnesses to cross-examination. What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie."

Geragos continues, "This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie's privacy in tampering with his medical records. Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption." 

2:45 PM PT -- We've now read the indictment, and it appears the grand jury hit Jussie with one count for EACH allegedly false statement he made during the 2 interviews with cops.

Jussie Smollett just got slammed by a Cook County grand jury, which has returned a 16-count felony indictment against him for filing a false police report. 

Smollett was originally charged by the State Attorney's Office with a felony of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. The new indictments obviously take the case to another level.

As for why there are so many counts ... the grand jury reportedly handed up 2 sets of charges -- one for Smollett's initial report to Chicago PD, and the other charges are for Jussie's second interview with cops.

We're told Ola and Abel Osundairo told grand jurors Jussie hired them to stage the so-called "attack." The brothers were caught on camera buying a bunch of supplies before the incident ... including ski masks, gloves, bandanas, sunglasses and red hats.

Chicago PD has come out strong against Jussie ... making it clear they had a lot of issues with his version of events -- including the fact he took them to the scene and immediately pointed to a camera which he said captured the incident. Turns out, the camera was pointed in the wrong direction.

Abel and Ola told police they drove with Jussie in the days prior to the incident scouting a location and even rehearsed the "attack."  

As for the hate mail sent to Jussie at Fox Studios in Chicago ... police say they believe the "Empire" star is behind that too. However, we know the FBI hadn't confirmed that when Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson blasted Jussie in his news conference.

We also know the brothers told police they had nothing to do with the letter, and only saw it in a photo on Jussie's phone.

Originally published -- 2:11 PM PT