After “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in Thursday and was charged with a felony disorderly conduct for filing a fake police report, the police said they had reasons to believe that he paid a pair of brothers $3,500 via check to stage a homophobic and racist attack on him, in January. And he did all that to earn a salary hike. 

Smollett had alleged that two masked men yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him – including “This is MAGA country” – before beating him up, pouring some sort of a chemical on him and looping a rope around his neck, in downtown Chicago, Jan. 29.

“Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a press conference, condemning the actor’s stunt, Reuters reported. “This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with this salary. He concocted a story about being attacked. We gave him the benefit of the doubt.”

He did not go into details about how the actor intended to further his career by committing the alleged crime or specify how much Smollett was presently paid for his role in “Empire.” Hours later, the Associated Press spoke with a source familiar with the situation, who said that actor was earning more than $100,000 per episode of the Fox series. Smollett was retained for season 5 of the series, which comprises of 18 episodes. That meant he would be earning at least $1.8 million for the present season alone.

The source also added that it was usual for each regular cast member to get a salary hike as part of contract extensions after “Empire” was renewed for a second season.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, which also spoke to other sources close to the matter, Smollett started out with a base salary of $40,000-$50,000 per-episode range when he originally joined the show in 2015, when he was a relatively unknown actor and the show was yet to garner massive ratings and become a cultural phenomenon. Between the second and third seasons, 20th Century Fox TV renegotiated the cast's contracts and Smollett ended up with a salary of over $125,000 per episode, a source said.

Fox’s original contract with the actor was also a “360 deal.” This basically meant the company would provide financial and other support for the artist’s music career, including marketing, promotion, touring, and so on in return for a percentage of an increased number of their revenue streams, which in this case involved iTunes sales from "Empire" music and live concerts. Smollett will be able to earn additional cash if revenue from his music sales exceeded the compensation listed in his contract.

One insider said if Smollett was unhappy with his pay scale, he did not show it. "I don't think it's true that he was unhappy with what he was being paid," the source said. "His representatives never once called and there was no effort to renegotiate. He's never expressed any dissatisfaction."

Meanwhile, as Fox decides whether to cast Smollett in the season finale of the show, which will be shot in the following weeks, Smollett apologized to everyone at “Empire” after he arrived half an hour late to shoot his scenes Thursday. "I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls. I wanted to say I’m sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this,” he said, a source told TMZ.

He was reportedly emotional as he addressed the crew members of the show and the producers let him leave without shooting. He did come back later and shoot the required scenes.

Smollett’s bail was set at $100,000 and was released from police custody on the same day, after paying 10 percent of the agreed amount.