Tag Archives: Tampa

The Caged Bird Sings Of Freedom

The caged bird sings

With a fearful trill

Of things unknown

But longed for still

And his tune is heard

On the distant hill

For the caged bird

Sings of freedom.

Dr. Maya Angelou (from I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings)

Freedom! Photo By: Robert Cooper

Greetings in the name of the Most High…

As you can imagine, the Gargamel Music Family’s entire world was shattered by the outcome of Buju’s trial. Two months have passed and the heartache has not eased at all. We lost a long, hard-fought battle but, alas, this legal war wages on. We remain confident in Buju’s innocence and vigilant in our fight for his ultimate freedom. There is nuff work to be done and the time has come for us to pick up the pieces and march forward in the struggle.

Buju’s strength and resolve throughout this painful ordeal has been nothing short of inspiring. He is a true soldier who continues to stand firm in his beliefs and will not be broken. He earnestly thanks his friends for life — the fans worldwide — for your unyielding support and only asks that you remember him in a positive light and continue to play his music in the days to come.

We encourage you to send uplifting letters to Buju at the address below:

Mark Anthony Myrie – Docket # 1443397

CEN-4C1-UN01-01-001

Pinellas County Jail

14400 49th Street North

Clearwater, Florida 33762-2877

If you feel like you want to top up B’s commissary, include a money order with all of the above information written on it (Mark’s legal name/docket number, etc…) and place it in the envelope with your letter. The guards who open the mail will make sure it’s added onto his account.

SENTENCING & APPEAL

We recently sat down with Buju’s attorney, David Oscar Markus, who took the time to school us on how the sentencing and appeal processes works so we have a better sense of what to expect.

The trial and sentencing judge, James Moody, Jr. still has yet to rule on either of the post trial motions filed by Markus back in February: 1) motion for judgement of acquittal  2) motion for a new trial. Markus filed a separate third motion for bond pending sentencing and appeal that he is also waiting to hear from the Court on.

Buju’s sentencing is currently scheduled for June 23rd. While Judge Moody can take other things into account, he still must abide by the current mandatory minimum drug sentencing guidelines, which based on the three convictions: 1) Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 or more kilograms of a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine  2) knowing and intentionally possessing a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and 3) using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offense, bring the mandatory minimum in this case to 15 years.

  • After sentencing, Markus has 14 days to file a notice of appeal. Then he will order the trial transcripts, which will take about 30 days.
  • As soon as Markus gets the transcripts, he has 40 days to file a brief, which will contain his arguments.
  • The government gets 40 days to respond. Markus gets 40 days to reply.
  • Then the Court will decide whether to allow oral argument (where 3 judges listen to the case). Only 10% of all appeal cases are granted this opportunity.
  • After oral argument, the Court usually takes between a month and a year to rule.

Those who wish to donate funds toward the appeal may send a wire transfer to the official Buju Banton Defense Fund set up by his attorney:

Markus & Markus, PLLC
(Defense Fund for Buju Banton)
Citibank, N A
Coral Way Branch
1600 Coral Way
Miami, FL 33145
ABA # 266086554
Account # 9118130472

You may also make a donation via Paypal. Just log in and direct monies to FREEBUJU@gmail.com

THE VOICE OF JAMAICA WILL NOT BE SILENCED!
The Gargamel Music Family remains steadfast in our efforts to promote and preserve the musical legacy of Buju Banton. As he reiterated in his Miami New Times cover story in January of this year, “they can lock the flesh but they can never lock the spirit of Rasta.” We intend to keep Buju’s spirit moving and his voice soaring — through music… And we already have several projects in development:

Buju Banton & Friends: Before The Dawn Concert DVD

We are working out the logistics to make the official DVD of the Before The Dawn Concert available for sale later this year. We are aware of the weak bootleg circulating on the streets and will deal with the culprits accordingly. In the meantime, we just ask that the fans hold on and support the real product when it comes out. It will definitely be worth the wait.

New Buju Banton Studio Album

While the General was out on bail and under house arrest he finished up some tracks for an album co-produced with longtime UK brethren, Blacker Dread. The pair previously worked together on the rousing 2010 anthem “Innocent” featured on Buju’s Grammy-winning album Before The Dawn (Gargamel Music). This new album will drop some time in 2012 on Gargamel Music, Inc.

Buju Banton Live Album

Team Gargamel has collected some amazing live material over the past few years and we plan to release the first Buju Banton live album some time in the near future.

Buju Banton Coffee Table Book

For the past few years we’ve been shooting with esteemed celebrity photographer Jonathan Mannion (Too Bad and Rasta Got Soul album covers) to produce a photography book that visually captures the excitement and frenetic energy of Buju’s live performances along with some exclusive behind-the-scenes moments on the road with the artist and his band.

Gargamel Music Website

At long last, we are in the process of revamping the Gargamel Music website. www.GARGAMELMUSIC.com will be the hub for all things Buju Banton on the web. We will also be selling authentic Buju Banton merchandise, including the Official Free Buju T-Shirts, which are now available in a Limited Edition Red in addition to the original Black and Green color waves. And keep your eyes peeled for the brand new Buju Banton Logo Tee that will be available at relaunch!

The Gargamel Music Family Thanks You For Your Support!

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Irie Jam Radio Hosting Buju Banton Tribute Marathon All Day Today!

Irie Jam 93.5 FM in collaboration with Gargamel Music, Inc. presents “A Day for Buju Banton” tribute marathon. Listeners in New York can tune in to Irie Jam 93.5 FM today, Saturday, October 9, from 1pm-6pm. Fans outside the Tri-State area can log on to www.iriejamfm.com or www.wvipfm.com.

All day, the Irie Jam family will celebrate the stellar body of work that Jamaican music icon, Buju Banton has delivered to the masses throughout his illustrious 20+ year career. The entertainment industry has also come out in support with Stephen MarleyGramps Morgan, Wayne Wonder, John Holt and Tarrus Riley all slated to participate in the program.

Buju Banton has been incarcerated since December 10, 2009. He was entrapped by a paid informant. After many postponements, his trial finally commenced on September 20, 2010. On September 27,  a mistrial was declared because the panel of jurors were split and unable to reach a unanimous verdict. The case will be retried in December 2010.

Meanwhile, Banton’s attorney, David Oscar Markus filed a motion for bond that was heard by Magistrate Judge Anthony E. Porcelli on Wednesday, October 6. Judge Porcelli is expected to render his decision next week.

We urge the public to  support Buju Banton’s  new album, a prophetic masterpiece, Before the Dawn by purchasing a copy today. In addition, we encourage everyone to participate in the Buju Banton Letter Writing Campaign to ensure the US government is keenly aware that the public is monitoring this case closely. Please send your letter today and encourage others to do the same !

THE BUJU BANTON DEFENSE FUND has also been reestablished. We are asking supporters to contribute $10 or more to assist in the next battle in Buju’s court proceedings, which will cost upwards of $200,000 USD.

Funds can be wired to:
Markus & Markus, PLLC
(Defense Fund for Buju Banton)

Citibank, N A
Coral Way Branch
1600 Coral Way
Miami, FL 33145
ABA # 266086554
Account # 9118130472

For international wires the Swift Code is CITIUS33.


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Buju Banton Trial Delayed Again… This Time ‘Til September 20th

Banton looks forward to his day in court.

Team Gargamel has learned that Buju Banton‘s day in court has been pushed back for the fifth time! Previously rescheduled to start on September 13th, the long-delayed trial has now been set to begin on Monday, September 20, 2010. The high-profile, highly controversial case will be tried by Assistant U.S. Attorney, James C. Preston, Jr. and presided over by The Honorable Judge James S. Moody, Jr. at the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. District Courthouse in Tampa, Florida.

Represented by esteemed South Florida Super Lawyer, David Oscar Markus, the Reggae icon is looking forward to finally having the opportunity to defend himself. It goes without saying that Banton is also amped up about the forthcoming release of his prophetic new album, Before The Dawn, which will drop just eight days later on Tuesday, September 28th in the United States and Japan. The release date for most of Europe is Monday, October 1st, however, for the UK and France the date will be Friday October 4th.

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Buju Banton Trial Pushed ‘Til September — Legal Team Files Motion Objecting Delay, Demands Speedy Trial!

Late this morning, US District Judge James Moody, Jr. did the unthinkable and inexplicably pushed Buju Banton’s trial, which was supposed to start on June 21st, back until September 2010. This is actually the second time Moody has continued the trial merely weeks before its scheduled start date, and once again he had the gall to provide absolutely no explanation for his actions.

Banton’s trial was initially set for March 3, 2010 but due to scheduling conflicts, the defense moved to continue the trial until April 12, 2010. The Court  granted the motion and set the trial to begin on April 19, 2010. However, on April 8, 2010, just 11 days before the start date, Moody postponed trial until June 21, 2010, and offered no reason for the delay.

Early this afternoon, Team Banton, led by esteemed legal eagle David Oscar Markus, filed a motion on behalf of his client objecting to the second continuance, and demanding a speedy trial, and a hearing on the matter. The motion reads in part:

MARK MYRIE’S OBJECTION TO SECOND SUA SPONTE CONTINUANCE, DEMAND FOR SPEEDY TRIAL, AND FOR HEARING

Previously, this court had specially set trial to begin on April 19, 2010. On April 8, 2010, with no motions pending, the Court sua sponte postponed trial for 74 days until June 21, 2010, in violation of the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. * 3161 et seq. In addition to postponing the trial outside the 70-day limit, no explanation for the continuance was given in violation of law. Bloate v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 1345, 1349 (2010); Zedner v. United States, 126 S. Ct. 1976 (2006). We objected. Now for the second time, this Court has sua sponte continued the trial until September 2010 without any explanation, again in violation of the Speedy Trial Act and Bloate. We file this objection and demand a speedy trial in this cause.

Today, on May 28, 2010, the Court has again continued the case another 70 days plus until the September trial calendar. No reason has been given for the continuance until September. No findings have been made. Mr. Myrie remains incarcerated in the county jail. This is presenting an enormous burden on Mr. Myrie, his witnesses, and his counsel.

Through this pleading, we demand a speedy trial as required under the Act and the Constitution.

Mr. Markus also requested a hearing on this matter for next Thursday, June 3, 2010 and is awaiting the Court’s response.

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Banton Moved Back To General Population–Team Gargamel Preps To Fight For His Life

Buju Prepares For The Fight Of His Life

The Gargamel Music Family is pleased to confirm that music icon, Buju Banton, has indeed been moved back to general population at the Pinellas County Jail after spending over 30 days in maximum security for the seemingly minor infraction of giving his food away to a fellow inmate.

The move has lifted Buju’s spirits tremendously as he is able to move around a bit more freely, plus he has access to hot water and other simple provisions that were not readily available in South Division aka “max.”

Buju wants his fans to know that all of the guards on his floor are treating him with the utmost respect and he also says he is receiving so much mail from around the world that the jail is even considering giving him his own mail bag! Buju is thankful for all the uplifting correspondence and promises to write back to his supporters as much as he can.

Well wishers can continue to hail up the boss at the new updated address below:

Mark Anthony Myrie – Docket # 1387202

*CEN-4C3-UN03-04-002

Pinellas County Jail

14400 49th Street North

Clearwater, Florida 33762-2877

Please note *new housing info, which must be included in address to ensure delivery.

In the meantime, Buju remains prayerful and optimistic as Team Gargamel, led by esteemed criminal defense attorney, David Oscar Markus, prepare to fight for his liberty and his life. The trial date is presently still set for Monday, June 21st at the Sam M. Gibbons Federal US District Courthouse in Tampa, Florida.

The high-profile, highly controversial case will be tried by Assistant US Attorney, James C. Preston, Jr. and presided over by The Honorable Judge James S. Moody, Jr.

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Why Was Buju Banton Thrown Into Maximum Security For Giving Food To Fellow Inmate!?!?

pinellasEarly Monday morning, the legal team representing Jamaican music icon, Buju Banton, was forced to file an emergency motion with the US District Court (Middle District) in Tampa, Florida on behalf of their client. Last Thursday, Banton (aka Mark Myrie), who has been incarcerated at Pinellas County Jail (PCJ) in nearby Clearwater since early January, was placed in maximum security for 30 days for giving away his food to a fellow inmate. After several futile attempts to negotiate directly with the jail (and the prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney, James Preston) to have Buju moved back to general population, Team Banton felt compelled to file the Emergency Motion for Bond or for Alternative Relief.

Lead defense attorney, David Oscar Markus, believes this excessive punishment is simply the latest in a long line of subtle yet exacting harassment endured by the Reggae star since his transfer to PCJ. Immediately upon his arrival at the jail, Banton, a devout Rasta who follows a strict ital diet, filled out the required paperwork to apply for vegetarian meals, but all of his requests were ignored. In addition to his visible weight loss, Banton has been inexplicably moved from floor to floor of the jail — 5 times at last count. And his cell is customarily tossed by guards (read: searched at random), among other things.

According to reports from former inmates who were interviewed for a PCJ resource site about (but unaffiliated with) the jail, South Division or “max,” is for non-sentenced (usually dangerous) felons. However, Central Division, the minimum security area where Banton was previously housed, at least has a “microwave and hot water” and is “very clean and neat compared to max.”

And here’s a Typical Meal Schedule & Sample Menu at Pinellas County Jail:

MEALS
Breakfast – 3:00am
Lunch – 10:00am
Dinner – 4:00pm

MENU
Shank & Cereal
Meat & Gravy
Macaroni & Ham Bits

COMMISSARY
Inmates may order from the commissary twice a week.

Below is an excerpt of the motion filed by Mr. Markus:

EMERGENCY MOTION FOR BOND OR FOR ALTERNATIVE RELIEF

Because Mr. Myrie had the audacity to share his food with a hungry inmate, he was sent out of general population and into the maximum security wing of the prison. When Mr. Myrie told the officer that he did not believe that he was doing anything wrong, he was told that he could contest her finding, but if he lost, he would be sent to the hole. Knowing how that would turn out, Mr. Myrie waived his opportunity to contest the hearing and was sent to maximum security for the next 30 days — the most critical 30 days of Mr. Myrie’s life as he prepares for trial.

Since being incarcerated in December 2009, Mr. Myrie has lost about 40 pounds and has not been provided with a diet in accordance with his religious views. Although he has been able to make appropriate meals in the kitchen with food he purchased from the commissary, he does not have the ability in his new maximum security wing. In addition, the living areas and kitchen are unsanitary, and the showers do not work. Because he is being treated inhumanely, we have no choice but to file this motion for bond.

The decision to then place Mr. Myrie in a maximum security wing weeks before his upcoming trial suggest that something else is going on. Counsel for Mr. Myrie was advised that he would remain in maximum security for at least 30 days, and that there was “nothing we can do about it.” In sum, Mr. Myrie is now in a maximum security wing for caring enough to offer food to another inmate who was hungry, and genuinely believing there was nothing wrong in doing so.

Transferring Mr. Myrie to maximum security is not only affecting him (Mr. Myrie’s mental and physical health has been rapidly deteriorating) but it is affecting undersigned’s counsel’s ability to prepare for trial. For example, this week when counsel attempted to visit Mr. Myrie, counsel was required to wait over two hours until he could see Mr. Myrie.

Many of the people that we spoke to at the facility tried to help us and agreed that this “violation” was extremely minor. We were told, however, that once the decision was made, it was not going to be overturned.

Team Banton was granted the emergency hearing and will appear in Tampa Federal Court on Friday, March 26th at 10am before Magistrate Judge Anthony E. Porcelli.

In the meantime… Bujumania!

Banton Fights The Power! Photo: Jonathan Mannion

FREE BUJU! RADIO/TV/WEB CAMPAIGN
Listeners request and selectors continue to play as much Buju Banton music as possible, especially the uplifting new single “Optimistic Soul,” which officially dropped online, March 23rd. Multimedia programmers should add the accompanying music video into rotation on local, national and international TV outlets and web sites. Plan a special Buju Banton Tribute program for the weekend of April 16th-18th (just before the trial start date of Monday, April 19th).

Swap your Facebook/Twitter profile pic to the official Free Buju! logo or your favorite photo of Buju Banton. Bombard the web with inspirational Buju Banton lyrics, quotes, interviews, videos and other memorabilia. Stay optimistic.

WRITE TO THE GENERAL
Continue writing letters of encouragement to Buju Banton:

Mark Anthony Myrie – Docket # 1387202

*SD-5F-POD03-01-002

Pinellas County Jail

14400 49th Street North

Clearwater, Florida 33762-2877

Please note *new housing info, which must be included in address to ensure delivery.

FAST & PRAY
The Gargamel Music Family will begin our collective fast on April 1st. Join us in solidarity!


~ GET DOWN WITH THE MOVEMENT ~
Official Free Buju! T-Shirts
We Support Buju Banton
Tampa Bay Supports Buju Banton
Buju Banton ♫It’s Not An Easy Road♫ Supporting Him In His Struggles
We Demand A Fair Trial For Buju Banton
Buju Banton On Facebook
Buju Banton On MySpace
Buju Banton On YouTube

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NEW VIDEO EXCLUSIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUJU BANTON – “Optimistic Soul”

“Optimistic Soul,” the brand new single from Buju Banton‘s Grammy-nominated album, Rasta Got Soul (Gargamel Music), officially drops digitally on Tuesday, March 23rd. Shot and directed guerilla style by esteemed Atlanta-based photographer, Zach Wolfe, the music video documents the last five days of Banton’s historic Rasta Got Soul US Tour.

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Shocking Details About Government Snitch In Banton Case Revealed!

Banton Battles Back

Thursday, March 4th proved to be a revelatory day for Team Banton, who appeared in US District Court in Tampa, Florida for two hearings. The first proceeding at 8:30am was handled by the judge who will actually be overseeing the trial, Judge James Moody. After conferring with the attorneys, Moody locked in the trial start date for Monday, April 19th.

The second proceeding, held before Magistrate Thomas Wilson at 10:30am,  focused on the series of motions filed last month by Banton’s criminal defense attorney, David Oscar Markus, requesting additional information about the government snitch who set up Buju Banton. According to Markus, the government has been slow to turn over documents, transcripts and other key information related to the case.

Here’s a few of the shocking details that were revealed about the still unnamed government snitch who set up the Reggae icon:

He transported over 2,000 kilos of cocaine and 3-4,000 kilos of marijuana between 1984 and 1993!

He was convicted in South Florida in 1993 of distributing cocaine in a case that brought a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years!

He has been paid 3.3 million dollars for helping law enforcement (DEA, Customs, FBI, Sarasota PDs) in numerous cases over several years!

He is a legal permanent resident of the United States from Colombia and was granted that immigration status only after law enforcement requested it!

He is paid on a contingency basis and looks to collect approximately $35,000 from the Banton case!

His credibility was called into question by one judge who doubted the truthfulness of his testimony in a case!

He is currently involved in a tax dispute with the IRS!

He has worked consistently with Assistant US Attorney James Preston, the prosecutor handling Banton’s case, for the last 10 years!

Markus argued in court that he needs more information to adequately cross-examine the government’s star witness, including specifics on the snitch’s criminal history, details of his tax case, transcripts from other cases he has testified in and a list of the amounts of money he has earned in each case. Assistant US Attorney Preston countered that his office already turned over any favorable information that might help the defense, as required by the court.

Nevertheless, Magistrate Wilson ordered the prosecution to provide the defense with a list of all the cases (w/ case numbers) the informant has testified in and any communications by criminal law officer or prosecutor asking for beneficial treatment in the informant’s tax case and immigration file. The prosecution has 14 days to turn over everything to Team Banton.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Mannion

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Team Banton Back To Court March 4th

The legal team representing Buju Banton, led by noted criminal defense attorney, David Oscar Markus, will be back in Tampa for two court hearings on the morning of Thursday, March 4th. The first hearing will simply reconfirm the trial start date, which has been tentatively set for Monday, April 19th. The Magistrate Judge appointed to the case, Thomas Wilson, will then hold a second, key hearing to address the series of motions filed by Markus, who contends that the DEA used a paid informant to entrap Buju Banton. One motion reads in part:

“The facts and circumstances of the confidential sources’ contacts with Mr. Myrie display a deliberate effort by a paid informant to ensnare a perfect stranger, who happened to be sitting next to him on an international flight, into committing a crime, thereby ensuring the informant more money…”

“The confidential source is a paid government informant. In addition to refusing to disclose the identity, the government has refused to identify the prior cases in which he has been involved, the outcomes of those cases, the amount of money he has earned making cases for the government, or even the amount he has been paid (or expects to be paid) in this case…”

It goes without saying that March 4th should prove to be a very interesting and especially revealing day in court. Big up to David Markus, Marc Seitles and the rest of the team working day and night on Buju’s case. We are thankful… We are confident… We will win this!

PHOTO CREDIT: Devin Allen

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Hail Up The General!

pinellasIt’s been nearly three weeks since Buju Banton was transferred to Pinellas County Jail in Tampa Bay. We are happy to report that the General is doing well, despite the horrific circumstances, wisely spending his time meditating, exercising, reading, writing and corresponding with his legal team, led by esteemed criminal defense attorney, David Oscar Markus. Family and friends continue to make sure Buju’s commissary is regularly topped up so he can buy the necessary provisions to maintain and keep up a healthful diet.

As widely reported, in the days following the earthquake in Haiti, Buju swiftly organized the donation of $1,000 and some of his gently used clothing. He sends his love to the entire Haitian massive, especially longtime comrade, friend and collaborator Wyclef Jean, a leader in the local relief efforts, who is also featured on the stirring track “Bedtime Story” from Banton’s Grammy-nominated album Rasta Got Soul (Gargamel Music).

Industry leaders, friends and fans alike have begun pledging monetary support for Buju Banton’s Defense. Banton’s lawyer, Mr. Markus  has now set up a separate fund to accommodate donations from the public:

Bank Name: CitiBank, NA – Branch 43

Bank Address: 1600 Coral Way, Miami, FL 33145

Account Name: David Oscar Markus, PLLC (Defense Fund For Buju Banton)

Account Number: 9117138666

Routing Number: 266086554

Swift Code: CITIUS33

HAIL UP THE GENERAL

Fans can write letters of support to the General at Pinellas County Jail:

Mark Anthony Myrie - Docket # 1387202

CEN-4C3-UN03-12-002

Pinellas County Jail

14400 49th Street North

Clearwater, Florida 33762-2877

Buju and the Gargamel family would like to send a special shout out to all of the artists who have shown their support through music: Anthony B – “Free Up The General” (Truck Back Records), Coco Tea – “Buju” (Roaring Lion), Sizzla – “Free Buju” (Exclusive)… Extra special thanks to all the club and radio DJs around the world who continue to make sure the Voice of Jamaica is heard.

Salute!

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