CHICAGO (AP) An Illinois judge has named a special prosecutor to look into why state prosecutors abruptly dropped charges against actor Jussie Smollett that accused him of staging a racist, anti-gay attack against himself.

Cook County Judge Michael Toomin’s appointment of former U.S. attorney Dan Webb during a hearing Friday raises the possibility that the special prosecutor could bring new charges against the former “Empire” actor. Smollett maintains that the January attack wasn’t staged.

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office charged Smollett in February with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly orchestrating the incident. However, it dropped all of the charges a month later with little explanation, angering city officials and the police.

A former state appellate judge, Sheila O’Brien, petitioned for a special prosecutor, leading to Toomin’s surprise ruling in June that one was warranted.