Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dancehall Reggae Artist Buju Banton Found Guilty on Drug Charges

One week after he picked up a Grammy, dancehall reggae singer Buju Banton faces a life sentence in prison after a jury found him guilty on cocaine conspiracy charges today.

During the trial -- the second in so many months -- prosecutors argued that the 37-year old Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, conspired with two other men in setting up a drug deal. Buju maintained that he was entrapped by a confidential informant and got in over his head while trying to impress a man he thought could help his music career, even though the entire drug deal was caught on tape and was arrested in a December 2009 sting operation. A jury deadlocked in his first trial last September.

The two other men pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with investigators. They will be sentenced next month.

Update, March 2: Buju has asked the court to release him on bond as he appeals the conviction. (Oh, wait, he wants a new trial!) His lawyer says the singer's celebrity makes it impossible for him to flee and hide, plus he's already surrendered his passport and he was electronically monitored when he was released on bond in November. The chances of him being released is probably less than zero.

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