bujubanton09282010

Buju Banton Convicted, Attorneys Plan Appeal

Just a week after celebrating his Grammy win for Best Reggae Album, Buju Banton was convicted today by a 12-person jury in a Federal Court in Tampa, Florida. After deliberating for eleven hours, the jurors found Buju—born Mark Myrie—guilty of conspiracy to possess five or more kilos of cocaine, of using a telephone to facilitate drug-trafficking, and of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug dealing offense.

Buju was found not guilty of possession with intent to distribute cocaine—and in fact, he never did possess the drugs in question. The artist has maintained his innocence from day one, and his defense attorneys argued that he was targeted and entrapped by federal agents. Many reggae artists have described the case as part of an ongoing war against the music. In a post-Grammy statement, Buju Banton's management called the charges against the artist "outlandish."

Showing no emotion after the verdict was read, Buju embraced his lead defense attorney David Markus, then blew kisses to his supporters, many of whom left the courtroom in tears. This was Buju's second trial on drug-related charges stemming from his arrest in December 2009. The first time around, jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict and the judge declared a mistrial.

"We are all extremely disappointed and emotional," Markus told the AP. "The only person who seems to be okay is Buju. He told us he was happy that he fought, knowing he was innocent." Markus also shared a statement from his client with Jamaica Observer reporter Paul Henry, who has been covering the case since last year: "Our life and our destiny are sometimes pre-destined," Buju said. "No matter where this journey takes me, remember I fought the good fight."

Sentencing has not yet been scheduled, but the 37-year-old reggae star could face 15 years or more in federal prison. Markus plans to appeal the conviction, which was based solely upon phone calls and video footage recorded by a paid DEA informant named Alexander Johnson. A convicted Colombian drug dealer, Johnson was arrested bringing hundreds kilos of cocaine into the U.S. in 1994. But instead of going to prison he went to work for the DEA, using hidden cameras and tape recorders to build cases for the Feds, and earning a handsome living for his work.

Johnson testified that he met the artist in June 2009 when they just happened to be seated next to each other on a first-class flight from Spain to the U.S following Buju Banton's summer tour. The confidential informant pursued the reggae star for months, and although Buju avoided his calls, Johnson did record Buju making various unsubstantiated claims on tape. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston argued that Buju Banton portrayed himself as a broker of drug deals in several conversations with the confidential informant, who was paid $50,000 for building a case against the reggae superstar. Markus said his client was a "big talker" but hardly a drug dealer.

The informant eventually lured Buju to a Sarasota warehouse—allegedly to look at a boat. But when Buju and two friends arrived, undercover agents showed him and two associates bricks of cocaine. The artist was caught on video tasting the cocaine—an act Buju's attorney called "the worst mistake of his life"—but he was not present when two other men went back to the warehouse with money to buy drugs and were taken into custody and subsequently pleaded guilty. Buju was arrested the following day at his Florida home. Prosecutors presented no evidence suggesting that Buju put any money into the drug deal, or stood to benefit from it in any way.

"This was complete entrapment," said one Buju supporter, who attended all four days of his second trial, and noted that there were three African-American women but no Black males among the jurors. "I can't believe those jurors were in the same courtroom as I was."

Buju Banton "Not An Easy Road" from his classic 1995 album Til Shiloh:

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Nick Cannon Apologizes To The Jewish Community For His “Hurtful And Divisive Words”

Nick Cannon issued an official apology over his controversial podcast that has since been deleted. The comedian and host shared another lengthy message on social media on Wednesday (July 15) apologizing to the Jewish community for his “hurtful and divisive words.”

“First and foremost I extend my deepest and most sincere apologies to my Jewish sisters and brothers for the hurtful and divisive words that came out of my mouth during my interview with Richard Griffin, reads a message on his Facebook page. “They reinforced the worst stereotypes of a proud and magnificent people and I feel ashamed of the uninformed and naïve place that these words came from. The video of this interview has since been removed.

“While the Jewish experience encompasses more than 5,000 years and there is so much I have yet to learn, I have had at least a minor history lesson over the past few days and to say that it is eye-opening would be a vast understatement,” the statement continues.

“I want to express my gratitude to the Rabbis, community leaders and institutions who reached out to me to help enlighten me, instead of chastising me. I want to assure my Jewish friends, new and old, that this is only the beginning of my education—I am committed to deeper connections, more profound learning and strengthening the bond between our two cultures today and every day going forward.”

Earlier in the day, Cannon posted a message stating that he’s “deeply disappointed” in ViacomCBS, and demanded that the company turn over the rights to Wild ’N Out. Now that he’s out at the network, Diddy offered to bright show to Revolt, although its unclear if that would be possible if Cannon doesn’t own the full rights.

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Megan Thee Stallion Says She Underwent Surgery After Suffering “Gun Shot Wounds”

Megan Thee Stallion is setting the record straight about a night out with Tory Lanez last Sunday (July 12) that ended with him being arrested on gun charges. The “Girls in the Hood” rapper posted a message on her Instagram account on Wednesday (July 15) revealing that she was suffered “gunshot wounds” and had to undergo surgery.

“The narrative that is being reported about Sunday’s morning events are inaccurate and I’d like to set the record straight,” wrote Meg. “On Sunday morning, I suffered gunshot wounds, as a result of a crime that was committed against me and done with the intention to physically harm me.”

Meg made it clear that she was “never arrested” and that police transported her to a local hospital where she underwent surgery to have the bullets removed. “I’m incredibly grateful to be alive and that I’m expected to make a full recovery, but it was important for me to clarify the details about this traumatic night.”

According to TMZ, a spokesperson for the LAPD said that officers had no idea that Megan was wounded. “At the time Megan Thee [Stallion] was with police she did not report that she was victim of any crime. And the LAPD has not received any additional information at this time.”

Police were responding to reports of multiple gunshots at a Hollywood Hills home where Meg was reportedly partying. Grainy footage from the incident appears to show her exiting a vehicle with her hands up. Lanez was apprehended on federal weapons possession charges and released on bond according to court records.

Megan has a visible trail of blood coming from her foot and LAPD had these niggas doing the CHA CHA SLIDE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET BEFORE HELPING HER. Police are useless! pic.twitter.com/1BCXAUW9m9

— Jalil (@dreadedgod) July 15, 2020

 

Read Meg's full statement below.

 

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I was never arrested. This whole experience was an eye opener and a blessing in disguise. I hate that it took this experience for me to learn how to protect my energy.

A post shared by Hot Girl Meg (@theestallion) on Jul 15, 2020 at 11:07am PDT

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Naya Rivera’s Cause Of Death Confirmed, Family Speaks Out

The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office completed an autopsy on Naya Rivera confirming her cause of death was an accidental drowning. “The autopsy findings are consistent with a drowning and the condition of the body is consistent with the time that she was submerged,” the coroner said on Tuesday (July 14).

There were no traumatic injuries or disease processes found during the autopsy and “no indication that drugs or alcohol played a role” in her tragic death. Rivera, 33, drowned after taking her 4-year-old son, Josey, out on a boat last week.

According to authorities, the doting mother and her son were out for a swim at Southern California's Lake Piru, when things turned fatal. In her final moments, Rivera mustered up the strength to boost her son back onto the boat but was ultimately unable to swim to safety. At least 9 people have drowned at Lake Piru since 1994.

Rivera's grieving family released a statement thanking authorities for recovering her remains, as well as the Glee star's fans, friends and colleagues for their support. “We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey and our family over the past week,” the family said.  “While we grieve the loss of our beautiful legend, we are blessed to honor her everlasting legacy and magnetic spirit. Naya was an amazing talent, but was an even greater person, mother, daughter and sister.

“Thank you to the men and women of the Ventura, Tulare, and San Louis Obispo County Sheriff’s Departments for you commitment and unwavering effort to find Naya. We extend endless gratitude and ovation to the heroine who found her. Thank you to her fiends, colleagues, and fans for your continued support.

“Heaven gained our sassy angel. We kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time.”

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