Monthly Archives: September 2010

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A GUESS A NUH MY BELLY WAN WEAK

Tense wait for Buju

Jury to resume deliberations this morning

BY PAUL HENRY Observer staff reporter [email protected]

Friday, September 24, 2010

 

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TAMPA, USA — Jurors will this morning continue deliberations in the closely watched Buju Banton trial following their failure yesterday to reach a verdict after four hours in the jury room.

The jurors retired at approximately 12:40 pm Florida time, after receiving final instructions from Judge Jim Moody, marking the start to an anxious afternoon period for the artiste and his fans.

 

Pray for Buju, fans plead

Pray for Buju, fans plead

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The anxiety was further heightened when at 4:40 pm it appeared the jurors were returning with a verdict.

“We should pray now,” said one supporter.

“We did that already,” another informed him.

To the disappointment of the nervous supporters, which included family members of the artiste, the jurors were only seeking further instructions.

The jury — which now consist of 13 members after one of the two African-American women had to be excused because of ill-health — will continue deliberations at 9:30 am.

Following yesterday’s adjournment, David Markus, the lawyer for the 37-year-old Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, said the team remained hopeful.

“It’s hard to say what is going on in there,” Markus said in reference to the deliberations among the jurors. “We just have to stay optimistic.”

In the meantime, Banton’s supporters at the court late yesterday afternoon called on fans worldwide to pray that the jurors would return a not guilty verdict.

They have asked that fans read Psalms 23 and 27 in addition to offering up prayers.

“We are just asking everybody all over the world to pray for Buju’s freedom and stay optimistic,” Hopie Miller, head of Magic Productions, said outside the Gibbons US Court, where the trial has been in progress since Monday.

If convicted, Banton could be sentenced to life imprisonment or slapped with millions of dollars in fines for the charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and illegal possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a crime.

The Jamaican international Reggae artiste was arrested at his Tamarac, Florida home on December 10 last year, following the arrest of former co-accused Ian Thomas and James Mack, who had been in possession of the firearm for which Banton was jointly charged.

Thomas and Mack have since pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in November.

Thomas, who is the godfather of two of Banton’s children, was set to give evidence on behalf of the defence yesterday morning but the entertainer’s legal team decided not to call him.

“We felt we had it without him,” Markus told the Observer during a short break after informing the court of the decision not to call Thomas.

Before the jurors retired yesterday, Markus, in his final argument, told them that his client was innocent and asked that they return a not guilty verdict.

“Ladies and gentlemen, he is not guilty. Mr Myrie is not a drug dealer. Please, please find him not guilty,” Markus said.

“Because he was at the warehouse when the drugs were being inspected does not mean he is guilty of the charge against him,” Markus added.

Markus argued that the Government had not proved its case against Myrie and pointed to the testimony of the Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Daniel McCeaffrey that despite investigating the artiste for a year he could find no evidence against him. Markus also painted US Government informant Alexander Johnson as a “master manipulator and con man”.

“To him this was a pay day. This guy was looking for his jackpot. This is how he makes a living,” Markus said.

But lead prosecutor Jim Preston countered Markus’ claims by telling the jurors that Myrie was “neck deep” in the conspiracy to distribute cocaine and said it was his actions that caused Mack and Thomas’ arrest. Preston said Thomas was brought into the deal by Myrie.

During his address to the jury, Preston on several occasions walked over to Myrie and pointed at him for emphasis.

“Based on the evidence, the Government has presented its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Preston said while urging the jurors to return with a verdict which says, “Buju Banton, guilty as charged”.

Judge Moody, in his summation to the jury, instructed them that not because Banton was on the spot when the contraband was being inspected meant he was guilty of conspiracy. He instructed them to carefully weigh the evidence of a convicted person or a paid government informant because they may have a motive to give false statements.

Johnson has been paid $50,000 for his work on the Banton case and has been a paid informant since his conviction on drug-trafficking charges in 1996.

The judge also informed the jury that their decision had to be unanimous to stand and instructed them that in cases of entrapment they had to find Myrie not guilty if he was not previously willing or if it was because a Government agent enticed him.

Banton, following the judge’s instructions, turned around, with hands clasped, and motioned to his supporters that they should pray for a favourable outcome.

Banton’s lawyers have been claiming that he artiste was entrapped by the Government and Johnson, whom he consistently referred to as a con man.

MI KNOW NUFF PPL SI DIS N IT DEH PAN FB BUT IT TOO FUNNY

QUOTES FROM BUJU’s TRIAL

<strong>
Never before could I attest to the trauma experienced by others,” Banton wrote, “but my current situation brings the full perspective of what bondage really means.”
Sep 19, 2010 The Associated Press (200 occurrences
)When the informant admonished him for smoking, Banton replied, “I smoke herbs, man. A lot of ganja.”
Sep 22, 2010 411mania.com (28 occurrences)”I’m just a humble musician. I was talking over my head,” Banton said. “I was trying to impress this guy and that’s what got me in this hot seat right now.”
22 hours ago MiamiHerald.com (10 occurrences)He added “I didn’t know I was going to see any drugs. And if I had known I was going to see drugs, I wouldn’t have gone.”
4 hours ago Contactmusic.com (5 occurrences)”When I realized this was real drugs, I thought, ‘This is a real drug dealer, and I want no part of it,'” Banton said. “I was in over my head.”
22 hours ago MiamiHerald.com (4 occurrences)

I give you money,” Banton said, according to Preston. “You buy, you sell, give me money.”
Sep 20, 2010 The Associated Press (81 occurrences)”I know you want to paint me bad,” Banton replied. “If I was a drug dealer, I would have taken the plea deal you offered me.”
22 hours ago MiamiHerald.com (10 occurrences)”I was just talking straight up garbage,” Banton said to jurors. “I liked hanging out with Mr. Johnson. He could talk all he wanted to talk, but I wasn’t going to engage in it.”
16 hours ago Tampabay.com (5 occurrences)”I talk too much, but I am not a drug dealer,” Banton said.
22 hours ago MiamiHerald.com (4 occurrences)”I was just talking garbage with him,” Banton said, referring to informant Alexander Johnson. “I was just talking straight-up garbage.”
15 hours ago Tbo.com (2 occurrences)

Asked why he tasted cocaine when shown a kilo of the drug in a Sarasota warehouse, Banton said, “I don’t know why I did that. If I could, I would rewind the hands of time.”
15 hours ago Tbo.com (2 occurrences)”I regret speaking like that. It has caused me tremendous pain and my family. If I were a drug dealer I would have taken the plea deal you offered me,” Banton said as he tried to remain calm under cross-examination.
11 hours ago Jamaica Observer (1 occurrences)Asked by Preston how – if he were not a cocaine dealer – did he know the price of cocaine in different parts of the world, Banton said that “you hear a lot” being in the entertainment business.
11 hours ago Jamaica Observer (1 occurrences)”I never sold cocaine, I never bought cocaine, I never shot cocaine,” Banton said before his grilling by Preston began.
11 hours ago Jamaica Observer (1 occurrences)”I was talking garbage. I was just talking straight up garbage! He was trying out-talk me,” Banton said, a line he would maintain throughout his close to two hours in the witness box. “I was trying to impress him.”
11 hours ago Jamaica Observer (1 occurrences)

That was me on the tape, but I walked away,” Banton said while gesturing with his hands.
11 hours ago Jamaica Observer (1 occurrences)”Yes, Sir I do,” Banton replied, adding that had he known that drugs were involved he would not have left his house to meet with Johnson.
11 hours ago Jamaica Observer (1 occurrences)”We were having a good time,” Banton said of the meeting at the restaurant in Florida on July 27.
11 hours ago Jamaica Observer (1 occurrences)Asked by Preston if he was “talking crap” when he spoke of cocaine buyers in Europe, Banton said he was “plain out lying”.
11 hours ago Jamaica Observer (1 occurrences)

JUROR TEK SICK YES….. IS A MUS…

Buju awaits verdict

African-American juror falls ill and not taking part in deliberation

BY PAUL HENRY Observer reporter [email protected]

Thursday, September 23, 2010

 


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A 13-member panel of jurors are now deliberating whether to find Reggae artiste Buju Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, guilty or innocent of conspiracy with intent to distribute five kilogrammes of cocaine.

A female African-American juror fell ill and will not take part in this afternoon’s deliberation.

 

BANTON…awaiting verdict.
MARKUS… the truth is on Banton’s side

BANTON…awaiting verdict.

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The jury retired at 12:40 pm.

Myrie’s attorney David Oscar Markus in his final argument, told the jurors that his client was innocent and asked them to return a not guilty verdict.

“Ladies and gentlemen, he is not guilty. Mr Myrie is not a drug dealer. Please, Please find him not guilty. Not because he was at the warehouse when the drugs were being inspected means he is guilty of the conspiracy charge against him,” Markus said.

Markus argued that the government could not prove its case against Myrie and pointed to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Daniel McCeaffrey’s testimony that despite investigating the artiste for a year he could find no evidence against him. Markus also painted US government informant Alexander Johnson as a ‘master manipulator and con man’.

“To him this was a pay day. This guy was looking for his jackpot. This is how he makes a living,” Markus said.

Lead prosecutor Jim Preston countered Markus’ claims by telling the jurors that Myrie was ‘neck deep’ in the conspiracy to distribute cocaine and said it was his fault why his co-defendants James Mack and Ian Thomas were arrested. Preston said Thomas was brought into the deal by Myrie.

During his address to the jury, Preston walked over to Myrie and pointed at him for emphasis.

Thomas was expected to testify this morning but was not called to the witness stand by Markus.

“We felt we had it without him,” Markus told the Observer.

Presiding Judge Jim Moody in his summation to the jury, instructed them that not because Banton was on the spot when the contraband was being inspected meant he was guilty of conspiracy. He instructed them to carefully weigh the evidence of a convicted person or a government informant because they may have a motive to give false statements.

He also informed the jury that their decision had to be unanimous to stand and instructed them that in cases of entrapment they had to find Myrie not guilty if he was not previously willing or if it was because a Government agent enticed him, they should return a not guilty verdict.

BUJU

In trial, reggae star says he lied about drug deals

TAMPA — He was a reggae icon who toured extensively throughout Europe and was considered the “voice of Jamaica.”

The other man was noticeably overweight and ran a frozen seafood business.

Yet reggae star Buju Banton felt the need to impress Alexander Johnson with talk of elaborate, million-dollar drug deals stretching the continents.

In the end it was all a lie, Banton said, a rivalry for superiority.

“I was trying to impress this guy. I wasn’t going to let him outtalk me,” the musician told jurors during testimony in the third day of his federal drug trafficking trial Wednesday. “That’s what got me into this hot seat.”

Johnson was a government informer who taped conversations with Banton discussing a variety of drug deals over five months, including shipping cocaine from Panama to Europe in crates with seafood. The informer was paid $50,000 in this case, according to testimony.

David Markus, Banton’s defense attorney, painted a picture of Johnson as an aggressor who pursued Banton with phone calls and the illusion of friendship. Johnson would bring up cocaine and discuss how the men could do business together.

Markus pointed to a meeting at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant in July 2009 when Johnson brought up cocaine after having a two-hour meeting with Banton. The reggae star asked Johnson if he had any drug connections.

Banton said he wasn’t taking the conversation seriously.

“I was just talking straight up garbage,” Banton said to jurors. “I liked hanging out with Mr. Johnson. He could talk all he wanted to talk, but I wasn’t going to engage in it.”

Banton said the informer also misled him on occasion. On Dec. 8, Banton traveled to Sarasota to see Johnson, who had explained they would be looking at his boat. The men ended up instead at a warehouse where an undercover police officer presented the men with a kilo of cocaine.

“I didn’t know I was going to see any drugs,” Banton said. “And if I had known I was going to see drugs, I wouldn’t have gone.”

In the end, Ian Thomas, an associate of Banton’s, agreed to do a drug deal with Johnson for 11 pounds of cocaine. Thomas has since taken a plea deal.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston challenged Banton’s argument.

“How does someone naive know the prices of cocaine in different parts of the world?” Preston asked, citing taped conversations where Banton quoted prices for cocaine.

At one point, Banton’s voice rose. “If I was a drug dealer, I would’ve taken the plea bargain you offered to me,” he said to the prosecutor. “But I’m taking a public flogging because I believe the truth must come out.”

Stephen Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley, took the stand as a character witness for Banton, calling the acclaimed singer “the voice of the people.”

Both grew up in Jamaica and have collaborated on music. Marley said he has known Banton for 20 years.

Markus asked Marley if he ever heard Banton discuss drugs.

“No, no,” Marley said. “Never.”

PAY ATTENTION TO THE $$$NUMBERS….. BRUCK POCKET INFORMANT??

Buju: I’m no drug dealer

Entertainer tells court he was ‘talking straight up garbage’

 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

 


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TAMPA, USA — A contrite and apologetic Buju Banton yesterday took the witness stand in his cocaine trial, denying that he was a trafficker or a financier of any illicit drug activities.

But the soft-spoken Jamaican Grammy nominee Reggae artiste admitted two things: that he was naïve, and that he was only “talking crap” when he was recorded telling Government informant Alexander Johnson that he was a drug financier, who was in search of new drug ventures.

 

BANTON… Final witness t testify on his behalf today.
MARKUS… the truth is on Banton’s side

BANTON… Final witness t testify on his behalf today.

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“Like my mom always say, ‘Mark, you talk a lot,’ and that is the consequence of it,” said the 37-year-old entertainer, whose given name is Mark Myrie, during cross-examination from prosecutor Jim Preston.

Banton said he was ashamed of himself for the things he had said, but told the attentive jurors that “talking crap” did not make him a dealer.

Banton had been eagerly awaiting this moment for the past several months following his arrest last December at his home in Florida. He was charged with conspiracy to distribute five kilogrammes of cocaine. If convicted, he could be sent to prison for life and fined several million dollars.

Decked in a grey sports jacket with a light blue under shirt and dark pants, a serious-looking Banton took to the stand while the jurors were on a short break.

He chatted with his attorney, David Oscar Markus and cased the room in the Gibbons US Court to look at his supporters, who were all anxiously waiting to hear the entertainer speak in his own defence after Markus announced that Banton would be taking the witness box because the “truth was on his side”.

The five-minute break before the jurors returned seemed like an eternity to anxious supporters, who milled about nervously. But alas, the 14 jurors — two African-Americans, the others whites — returned at 2:45 pm, taking their seats in front of the entertainer.

“Are you guilty of being a cocaine trafficker?” Markus wasted no time in asking.

“No, Sir, I’m not,” Banton promptly responded as he went on to deny the charges against him.

“How do you feel?” Markus asked.

“I’m scared,” Banton said, managing an awkward smile. “I’m nervous. I’ve been waiting 10 months.”

He was, however, prevented from completing the statement due to an objection from lead prosecutor Jim Preston, which was sustained by Judge Jim Moody.

At Markus’ prompting Banton proceeded to recall how he met Johnson on a flight from Madrid, Spain following a tour of the European continent in July 2009 and how he got to like Johnson’s company.

He said he and Johnson spoke on a number of topics during the eight-hour flight to Florida, USA and that Johnson was the one who raised the issue of drugs after both men had had a few glasses of wine which Johnson ordered.

He said both men spoke about the entertainment business and Johnson told him that he had contacts within the industry.

Banton testified that before the argument of drugs came up, Johnson had told him that he had a seafood business but that he did “a little thing on the side”, which the entertainer took to mean that the “side” enterprise may have been illegal. Banton said his suspicion was further heightened when Johnson pulled a wad of cash from his pocket and showed it to him.

Nonetheless, Banton said he was having a good time talking with Johnson and that he found him quite affable.

“He was a funny guy,” said the entertainer with a smile.

Banton said that Johnson asked if Jamaicans transported weed with go-fast boats, and confided that he (Johnson) used to ship ganja but switched to cocaine.

The singer said the two never spoke much about the subject as Johnson kept looking over his shoulders.

Banton testified that he gave his number to Johnson, who gave his name as Junior, and that he received a call from him the following day, saying that he wanted to meet the next day, which they did at a restaurant.

“We were having a good time,” Banton said of the meeting at the restaurant in Florida on July 27.

He said he had no idea that Johnson had invited him to the restaurant to talk about drugs, and that he had left the restaurant and was meeting outside with his realtor when Johnson approached him and asked if he had talked to his friend about the cocaine venture.

Asked by his attorney about his drug discussions with Johnson, Banton said that he was just yapping to impress Johnson and that he was not a drug dealer and was not interested in making any drug deal.

“I was talking garbage. I was just talking straight up garbage! He was trying out-talk me,” Banton said, a line he would maintain throughout his close to two hours in the witness box. “I was trying to impress him.”

As he looked directly at the jurors, and spoke in an animated way, Banton again denied ever doing any drug deal in his life, contrary to what the prosecution is contending, based on the entertainer’s recorded conversations with Johnson.

“I’m just a humble musician. I was just talking above my head. I was trying to impress this guy and that’s what got me into this hot seat,” the entertainer said in a contrite tone.

Regarding the December 8 meeting between himself, Johnson, and Ian Thomas, where the artiste was videotaped tasting cocaine during a covert operation by the Sarosata police department, Banton said he had no idea that he was going to a warehouse to see drugs, but instead he thought he was going to inspect a sailboat.

“Do you like boats? questioned Markus.

“Yes, Sir I do,” Banton replied, adding that had he known that drugs were involved he would not have left his house to meet with Johnson.

It was at that meeting that Banton introduced Johnson to Thomas, who is the godfather of two of the artiste’s children.

Banton said he continued meeting with Johnson even though the Colombian was always talking about drugs, because he liked him and thought he could connect him with people in Los Angeles who could sign him to a record deal in light of the fact that his contract with Tommy Boy Records had expired that year.

Reality, the artiste said, struck on that fateful December 8 day when he went to the warehouse and the five kilograms of cocaine was presented.

He said after that meeting he wanted nothing more to do with Johnson, whom he said was “attacking” Thomas about making cocaine deals the moment they were introduced.

“I never sold cocaine, I never bought cocaine, I never shot cocaine,” Banton said before his grilling by Preston began.

Earlier, during the morning session, while Johnson was being cross-examined, Markus had attempted to paint the convicted drug dealer as a man who was steeped in debt, including taxes, and who was motivated by the money he stood to make from Banton’s arrest.

In light of this, Markus attempted to establish that Johnson vigorously pursued Banton, constantly calling the artiste to make drug deals.

It is already public knowledge that Johnson had made US$50,000 working undercover on the case.

Johnson had been working undercover for the us Government since 1996, following his conviction on drug-trafficking charges. He has, over a three-year period, made US$3 million as a Government informant.

Johnson said yesterday that his work with the Government was his only source of income. He is paid by the number of arrests he is able to secure.

Johnson is said to owe over $100,000 in taxes, is behind on his mortgage payments and is deep in credit card debt. He has filed for bankruptcy.

Banton had waited since last December to speak in his own defence, but Preston made sure it was not a cakewalk.

Straight off the bat, the grey-haired Caucasian prosecutor pounced, reminding Banton of his boasting on the recordings that he is a big-time cocaine financier, who was looking to expand his illicit drug empire.

“That was me on the tape, but I walked away,” Banton said while gesturing with his hands.

Asked by Preston how — if he were not a cocaine dealer — did he know the price of cocaine in different parts of the world, Banton said that “you hear a lot” being in the entertainment business.

“I talked a lot of crap, Sir,” the artiste said during one of his exchanges with Preston. “I just talk a lot. I did not do anything.”

Asked by Preston if he was “talking crap” when he spoke of cocaine buyers in Europe, Banton said he was “plain out lying”.

Asked his motives for “lying”, Banton said he thought Johnson could get him a record deal.

“I regret speaking like that. It has caused me tremendous pain and my family. If I were a drug dealer I would have taken the plea deal you offered me,” Banton said as he tried to remain calm under cross-examination.

He later said he was ashamed of himself for the things that he had said, and that he had worked too hard over the past 20 years to establish himself to throw it all away over such little money.

Preston suggested that Banton had been facing financial problems at the time, which the artiste denied.

The Reggae singer said also that he spoke to Johnson about legitimate business ventures, but that Johnson only wanted to talk about drugs.

He said he did not put Johnson in touch with Thomas for them to close any cocaine deal.

Thomas was arrested on December 10 along with a James Mack. Both men were jointly charged with Banton, but pleaded guilty on a lesser charge. They will be sentenced in November. Thomas is expected to testify for the defence today.

Mack had yesterday refused to testify for the defence out of fear that he may hurt his chances of receiving a favourable sentence.

Also yesterday, Reggae artiste Stephen Marley, the son of late Reggae icon Bob Marley testified on Banton’s behalf. He said he had been friends with Banton for more 19 years and did not know him to be a drug dealer.

WHEY NUFFY GUH PAN FB

My husband can act crazy all he want so he can get out the army with out giving me a dollar..God take care of his own. The fool don’t know Obama just pass the law that if a service member get kicked out on adultry or abuse the spouse (me) get money for 3 additional yr + benefit just found this out from my social worke…r and the fact i have 8yrs served with the soldier..I’m worry free now :-)See more
17 hours ago · Comment  ·LikeUnlike · View feedback (27) Hide feedback (27) 
 
Day 5 since all the drama and i can’t believe how well i’m taking things, all i can say is God is great and u should always depend on him when all others fail YU..The love of God is mine today i hope it be each and every one of yu comfort too..How i’m feeling? believe it or not i’m feeling great,no more heavy unsure load to carry:-)Monday at 12:19 · Comment  ·LikeUnlike · View feedback (15) Hide feedback (15) 
 
my mom and dad moved out their master bed room because my bed room set is too big,i have that Ashley king size set . They are the best i’m telling yu who can ask for better family support..and no it’s not the bed i caught that dog on i would have burnt it i don’t care if it cost over $4000.The husband couldn’t figure o…ut why i would do any thing for my parents, i hope that nigga see now..blood thicka than water :-)See more
17 September at 12:02 · Comment  ·LikeUnlike · View feedback (10) Hide feedback (10)
yall know this girl don’t give a dam i tell it like it is no pretty up..Well i’ve been moving out,but in the midist of it all of the moving out i went back to the house last night 11pm right around the corner from my mom’s only to find the husband in the bed with another woman.He hide her car i the garage, i guess i n…eeded this to finally leave that nigga…When do we women learn?, ask question if yall want :-(See more
16 September at 12:44 · Comment  ·LikeUnlike · View feedback (50) Hide feedback (50) 

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