Brothers say they have 'tremendous regret' for role in Jussie Smollett case

A pair of brothers who police said were paid by “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett to stage an attack on him in January expressed “tremendous regret” in a statement released Thursday through their attorney.

"My clients have tremendous regret over their involvement in this situation, and they understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves," Gloria Schmidt, an attorney for brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, said in a statement to WGN-TV.

Police briefly arrested the Osundairo brothers last month on suspicion of carrying out the attack in downtown Chicago against Smollett. The actor told police he was confronted in the predawn hours Jan. 29 by a pair of men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, hit him in the face, poured an unknown substance on him and wrapped a rope around his neck.

Authorities launched an investigation into the attack, which officials called a possible hate crime, and the brothers were arrested last month. They were released two days later after confessing that they had been paid by Smollett to stage the attack, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said last week.

“One of the brothers worked on ‘Empire,’ so they had a relationship, an association,” Johnson said. “He probably knew that he needed somebody with bulk. ... (The brothers) did it because of the financial aspect of it.”

Johnson said Smollett paid the Osundairo brothers $3,500 and that the false attack was meant to bolster his career.

“This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary,” Johnson said.

Police on Feb. 21 arrested Smollett on a charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report. An unidentified source told CNN the actor apologized to the cast and crew of "Empire" after he bonded out of jail and that he maintained his innocence. Last week, officials with 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment, the executive producers of "Empire" said Smollett's character would be removed from the final two episodes of the show's current season.

Smollett is scheduled to appear for his next court date March 14, according to WBBM-TV.