Sep 4, 2013

Buju’s co-accused released from prison

IAN Thomas, one of the co-conspirators in the Buju Banton drug case, has been released from federal prison.

Thomas — who the Federal Bureau of Prisons' website said was released on August 23 — and James Mack were held in a police-controlled warehouse in Tampa, Florida , attempting to purchase a large quantity of cocaine p> from undercover Drug Enforcement Agents. A quantity of cash and an illegal pistol were later found in a car Mack was driving at the time.

That same day Banton, whose right name is Mark Myrie, was arrested at his home in Tamarac, South Florida.
Mack and Thomas both pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and agreed to testify against the Jamaican entertainer in exchange for lesser sentences.
Mack, who is currently serving time in a federal prison in Sacramento, California, is slated for release on November 11 this year.

Banton has been adamant that he is innocent of the charges and despite being sentenced to 10 years is fighting for a new trial after the jury foreperson in his second trial, Teri Wright, was found guilty of contempt of court after it was revealed that she had disobeyed an order from Magistrate James Moody not to study any aspect of the law as it related to Banton's case.
Banton is seeking to ask a US court to throw out his guilty verdict on the grounds that the jury was tainted.

In the meantime, the Buju Banton Defence Support Committee, in a release yesterday, said it remained at a loss in understanding how the foreperson of the jury could be found in contempt of court during the trial and follow-up hearing, yet only one of that jury's decisions was thrown out.

And the committee -- an international group of Banton's friends and civil rights activists — yesterday denied a local media report that the imprisoned entertainer has retained his former lawyer, David Oscar Markus on his legal team.
"That information is false. David Markus is not on Buju's legal team. Buju's new Attorney is Charles Ogletree of Harvard University. He is the sole attorney representing Mark," the group said in a release.

Attorney Chukwe Lumumba, who had replaced Marcus, was in June this year forced to recuse himself after he was elected mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. He, however, assisted the committee in securing the services of Charles Ogletree Jr to represent the Jamaican entertainer.

Ogletree is director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He founded and became director of the school's Criminal Justice Institute in 1990.

Banton was on August 24 sent to the FTC prison in Oklahoma, from where he will be transferred to another federal prison to serve his time.
He was previously locked up at the FCI penal institution in Miami, Florida but when the evidentiary hearings into Wright's misconduct began last year he was transferred to the Pinellas County Jail in Tampa.


Sep 3, 2013

Buju Gets New Lawyer, Transferred To Another Prison

Buju Banton is making some serious movements in his ongoing quest for freedom.

The Grammy-winning reggae star has acquired the services of a new attorney name Charles J. Ogletree Jr. after his previous lawyer Chokwe Lumumba was elected mayor of Jackson Mississippi.

“Attorney Charles J. Ogletree is the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice,” Buju Banton`s Defense Support Committee said in a statement. “Accordingly, he is more than ready to continue the fight for justice for Buju. We expect that Attorney Ogletree will determine what his next steps will be after reviewing the case. Attorney Lumumba has already filed a notice of appeal following the incomplete justice Judge Moody gave on June 26, 2013.”

Buju Banton is also being transferred to a new prison.

According to reports, the reggae singer, real name Mark Myrie, was transferred from a Florida prison and is now being held at a Federal Transfer Centre (FTC) in Oklahoma City.

The reason for his transfer is not yet known.

Banton was convicted on three counts of drug trafficking charges and sentenced to 10 years behind bars.


Sep 1, 2013

Buju Banton on the move, being transferred to new location

Convicted reggae superstar Buju Banton has been transferred from the Florida federal prison where he has been serving a 10-year sentence. 

His final destination is still unknown, but the Grammy-winning entertainer, whose real name is Mark Myrie, is now at the Federal Transfer Centre (FTC) in Oklahoma City. 

A spokeswoman at the Federal Bureau of Prisons this morning declined to discuss the reasons for the transfer or divulge which facility he is being transferred to. 

"As a matter of policy, we don't discuss that," the spokeswoman told The Gleaner. 

According to the Bureau of Prisons' website, the FTC is an administrative facility that houses male and females holdover offenders. 

Buju was convicted on drug charges stemming from an attempted drug deal in 2009. 

A Florida judge recently dismissed his appeal for a new trial, but the entertainer has already served notice that he will continue his fight to overturn the conviction. 

Buju's 10-year sentence started December 2009, his projected release date according to the Bureau of Prisons' website is March 2019. 

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer 

Buju Banton set to release new album in 2014

Despite being incarcerated on federal drug charges until 2019, embattled Dancehall/Reggae singer, Buju Banton is planning to drop a new studio album in the summer of 2014, according to reports Friday.

Tracii McGregor, a member of Buju’s management team revealed that most of the songs on the singjay’s album were recorded when he was out on bail in 2011, awaiting his trial on drug and gun charges. McGregor told the Jamaica Observer, "Buju is very involved in the process, of course. He is just as focused and detail oriented as he ever was.”

Producers expected to feature on the album include Stephen Marley and Blacker Dread, with production from Buju himself also featuring on the compilation.

This new studio album would mark Buju’s 13th in his over two decades as a mainstream artist. His last album was Before The Dawn, released in 2010, which featured singles such as Innocent, Battered and Bruised as well as Do Good. The album won the self-professed ‘Gargamel’ his first Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in February 2011, just days prior to his conviction on three drug related charges in relation to a 2009 incident in Florida.

Several singles have been released since Buju’s incarceration, including Set Up The Mic, Lose Your Love and Inna Half, the latter two singles produced by his son, Markus Myrie.

Buju is reportedly in transit at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Centre, having been transferred from a federal prison in Florida, where he as served the majority of his sentence to date.