News: Buju Banton Pleads Innocence In Drug Conspiracy Case, Refuses Plea Deal

Friday, Jan 8, 2010 5:40PM

Written by Biz Jones

Reggae star Buju Banton has pleaded not guilty to drug charges related to an arrest last month in Florida.

According to reports, Banton is not seeking a plea deal to avoid substantial time behind bars.

Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton has pleaded not guilty to a drug charge in a Florida federal court. Banton was arraigned Thursday (Jan. 7) on a charge of conspiring to buy more than five kilograms of cocaine from an undercover law enforcement officer in Sarasota last month. The 36-year-old singer, born Mark Myrie, did not seek bail. If he bonded out of jail, he would be held by immigration officials. Banton's attorney says his client is innocent and does not plan to seek a deal. Banton will likely miss the Jan. 31 Grammy Awards, where he is nominated for his latest album, "Rasta Got Soul." (Billboard)

He last appeared in court last month when he was transferred from Miami to Tampa.

Wearing a beige jail jumpsuit and shackles, Banton, 36, sat expressionless in the front row of the Miami federal courtroom, his trademark dreadlocks pulled back off his narrow face and rolled into a bundle. Occasionally he looked out into the courtroom where, in the back row, his publicist and two members of the local Jamaican Consulate observed the proceedings. The only time Banton spoke was when he uttered his real name and age, and confirmed to U.S. Magistrate Judge William Turnoff that he was indeed waiving his bail hearing in Miami to be transferred to Tampa. (Miami Herald)

An attorney for Banton shared his comments after the hearing.

"He believes that because the indictment was filed out of Tampa, that's where the case should be defended," Banton's attorney, Herbert E. Walker III, said after the hearing. "He's a very spiritual person. He has a lot of faith in God. He's confident he's going to be exonerated." (Associated Press)

He was taken in by authorities in December.

The four-time Grammy nominee is accused along with two others of allegedly attempting to buy more than five kilograms of cocaine from an undercover law enforcement officer in Sarasota last week. Banton was arrested Thursday at his home in Tamarac. The charges carry a maximum sentence of over 20 years in prison. (Carribean World News)

No further details have been revealed as of now.

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