Deadline near for Smollett to pay back Chicago

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, center, arrives at Leighton Criminal Court Building for a hearing to discuss whether cameras will be allowed in the courtroom during his disorderly conduct case on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, in Chicago. A grand jury indicted Smollett last week on 16 felony counts accusing him of lying to the police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two masked men in downtown Chicago.(AP Photo/Matt Marton)

 A deadline is looming for Jussie Smollett to pay more than $130,000 to Chicago for investigative costs into what city authorities say was a staged racist, anti-gay attack or risk getting slapped with a civil lawsuit.

Thursday is seven days since Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s law chief sent the “Empire” actor a letter demanding the payment. The March 28 letter said he must pay within seven days but didn’t specify a response if he didn’t.

Nonpayment will likely prompt the city to sue Smollett, prompting a civil trial where standards for proving he staged the incident will be lower than in criminal court.

Chicago sent the letter after state prosecutors dropped criminal charges accusing Smollett of orchestrating the attack.

Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot could reverse any legal action after she’s sworn in May 20