Oct 15, 2010

Bail conditions proposed for reggae star Buju Banton


By Richard Danielson, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Friday, October 15, 2010

TAMPA — If internationally known reggae star Buju Banton wants to get out of jail before his retrial on cocaine conspiracy charges, it won't be cheap.

To make bail, Banton would have to post $250,000 — secured by the equity in a friend's house — wear an electronic monitor and undergo drug testing.

Banton also would have to pay for around-the-clock security, probably off-duty sheriff's deputies, to watch his every move. And there wouldn't be many moves to watch.

Banton, 37, whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie, would essentially be on house arrest at his home in the Broward County town of Tamarac. "The court's main concern is a risk of flight," U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli said at a hearing Thursday.

Banton could only leave the house, accompanied by his security detail, to meet his lawyer on his case, go to court, see a doctor or pick up medicine prescribed by a doctor. Moreover, a pretrial services officer would have to approve every trip ahead of time or Banton would go back to jail.

If Banton's attorney arranges for the security detail, prosecutors still could request another hearing before he gets out. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston Jr. told Porcelli that Banton should be detained.

Banton, a citizen of Jamaica, is one of reggae's top performers, and the case is being closely watched in the Caribbean. Within an hour of Thursday's hearing, Twitter was abuzz with celebratory postings.

But Banton's release, if it happens, would be anything but immediate. Even if he meets every condition described by Porcelli, he would still have to have a hearing before an immigration judge before he could be released, said his attorney, Marc David Seitles of Miami.

[Last modified: Oct 14, 2010 10:55 PM]

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