Nov 25, 2010

Judge Denies Buju Banton’s Request To Perform At Live Concert On December 26

Dancehall/reggae artiste Buju Banton, who has been out on bail but under house arrest pending retrial in February 2011 on drug conspiracy charges, apparently made an application to perform at a live concert in Miami on December 26, but this request was denied by U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli earlier today. The judge reportedly said that whatever financial pressures Banton faces do not outweigh the risk that he might flee.

According to Banton’s lawyer, the artiste’s designated security detail does not object to him doing the concert, and would be present for the show. His lawyer reportedly asked the judge to reconsider, saying the 24-hour security detail ordered to monitor Banton as a condition of his release costs a hefty US$20,000 a month, not to mention the cost of preparing for his upcoming retrial. In other words, Banton needs to earn some money, and this concert would’ve been a good way to do so.

Nov 18, 2010

Buju wants gun charge dropped

Lawyers representing Jamaica's reggae superstar Buju Banton have filed a motion in court to have the gun charge against him dropped.

Buju, whose correct name is Mark Myrie, is set to be retried on charges of drug conspiracy and possession of a firearm during the course of a drug-trafficking crime.

But in documents filed in the US District Court in the Middle District of Florida on Monday, Buju's lawyers urged the judge to free him of the gun charge.

"As the court is well aware, the jury in this cause could not reach a verdict, and a mistrial was ordered.
"The government has indicated that it intends to retry the case. In the light most favourable to the government, the evidence was insufficient to convict Mr Myrie on Count 2, the 924(c) charge and, accordingly, Mr Myrie should only be retried on Count 1," Buju's attorney, David Oscar Markus, argued.

Amending the indictment

"First, there is no evidence Mark Myrie knew that James Mack (a co-accused) had a gun in his car. The undisputed facts at trial established that Mr Myrie had never even spoken to or met James Mack before being arrested in this case. As for the second element, there is nothing that 'links' Mr Myrie to this gun," added Markus.

The lawyer charged that having realised that it could not prove that Buju aided or abetted the possession of the gun, the prosecution attempted to amend the indictment after the close of the first trial.

"There is simply no evidence that it was reasonably foreseeable to Mr Myrie that Mr Mack would be present at this drug deal and that he would be in possession of a gun," said Markus.

The court is expected to rule on the matter shortly.

Buju and his co-accused, Mack and Ian Thomas, were arrested last December after US law-enforcement agents allegedly recorded them planning a drug deal.

Mack and Thomas, who were held when he went to purchase the coke, subsequently pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

But Buju, who has repeatedly claimed he was not guilty, faced the court in a trial which ended in a hung jury.
He is now out on bail and scheduled to return to court for a second trial early next year.

Nov 11, 2010

Buju out!

Reggae singer Buju Banton is out of custody for the first time in almost a year, after stepping out of the Pinellas County Jail in Tampa, Florida, after he was granted bail in an immigration court.

Buju, whose real name is Mark Myrie, had been behind bars since his arrest in December on federal drug-trafficking charges. After a jury was deadlocked in September, a new trial date was set for February.

Under the terms of Buju's bond, he must post US$300,000 worth of equity in the South Florida home of his friend, reggae star Stephen Marley, son of Bob Marley. He must also hire a private security detail to guard him so he does not flee.

Buju was required to sign an extradition waiver, ensuring his return if he flees the country, and will have to wear an electronic monitoring device.

The prosecution alleges Buju is a drug trafficker who tried to enter into a deal with an informant to finance the purchase and sale of cocaine. The defence maintains the singer was set up by the informant.

Buju Banton out on bail

REGGAE artiste Buju Banton this afternoon walked out of the Pinellas County Jail in Tampa, Florida after he was granted bail in an immigration court. Banton has been in jail since December last year when he was arrested for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine.

A member of his legal team, Marc Seitles, said the artiste was overjoyed that he gained some measure of freedom."Buju can’t wait to have a nice meal and sleep in his own bed,” Seitle said.

In September, Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was left pondering his fate after a 12-member jury could not reach a unanimous decision about his innocence or guilt.

He will be retried in February next year.

Banton met the conditions bail set by US magistrate Anthony Porcelli after his friend and son of Reggae King Bob Marley, Stephen Marley, put up his US$300,000 house as collateral.

Myrie will have to wear a tracking device and will be under 24-hour surveillance from a security company. He has also signed an extradition waiver and will not be allowed to leave the Middle District of Souther District of Florida until his trial begins.

He will only be allowed to visit a doctor and his lawyer.

Also he must submit himself to urine tests to prove that he is not using banned substances.

Nov 4, 2010

Buju can now take up his bail bond

Can now spend Christmas with family after prosecution appeal rejected

THE judge in the Buju Banton case has rejected the prosecution's appeal against a previous ruling that approved Banton's hiring of two security companies to ensure he stick to the conditions of his house arrest.
Banton has therefore been cleared to take up his bail bond.

He will stand trial again in February, after his legal team requested a change of date out of a desire for the artiste to spend time with his family this Christmas.

Banton was originally set for retrial in December, after a mistrial was declared in September when jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

"Buju really wants to spend some time with his family before the next trial," lead attorney Oscar David Markus told the Observer. "Hopefully this will give him a little breather before round two."

The motion was granted by United States District Judge James Moody. A specific date for the retrial was not set. After clearing this hurdle, Banton will have to seek bond in the immigration court in order to be released, as his entertainment visa was revoked following his arrest.

Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, is accused of conspiring to buy five kilogrammes of cocaine from an undercover officer in Sarasota, Florida. He was arrested last December after the arrest of two other men, Ian Thomas and James Mack, who later pleaded guilty. They will be sentenced this month.

The artiste was charged along with the men for possession of a firearm during the furtherance of a crime. The gun was actually in Mack's possession.

Banton was granted US$250,000 bail last month but wrangling between his legal team and the prosecution is preventing him from taking up the bail, which would see him being placed under immediate house arrest.
As part of the conditions, Banton can only leave home to purchase medication, attend court and see his attorney. Banton will also have to wear an electronic tracking device.

Nov 1, 2010

Buju's retrial postponed to February

Defence had moved motion against December date

TAMPA, Florida — Reggae singer Buju Banton's retrial in Florida has been pushed back until February. United States District Judge James Moody had said Banton's new trial would be in December, but he granted a defence motion to postpone it.

Moody set the case for his February trial calendar but didn't set a specific date.

Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, is accused of conspiring to buy cocaine from an undercover officer in Sarasota. He's been held without bail since his arrest in December. He is now trying to get released from jail pending the retrial.

Banton's attorney says his client wants to spend the holiday season with his family.

Moody declared a mistrial for Banton last month after jurors said they could not reach a verdict.