Tag Archives: Assistant US Attorney James Preston

Free Buju Letter Writing Crusade Takes Off!

Team Banton Collects Letters Of Support From Around The World

Team Banton Collecting Letters Of Support From Around The World

Greetings friends, fans and freedom fighters! The Gargamel Music Family is pleased to announce that the Buju Banton Letter Writing Campaign to the Supreme Court has gotten off to an enthusiastic start. In just a few short weeks since launching the crusade at a press conference on Capitol Hill, Banton’s attorney Chokwe Lumumba  reports that well over a thousand signed letters of support from around the world have already arrived at  his law offices in Mississippi.

Buju Back In Court December 20th

Buju Back To Court December 20th

There is also an online petition circulating on change.org but several people have experienced technical difficulties so we still encourage you to write a heartfelt letter of your own (or print out the template below), sign and snail mail it to Mr. Lumumba before the deadline on Thursday, January 31, 2013.

Banton will next appear in a Tampa federal court on Thursday, December 20th for an evidentiary hearing called by Judge James Moody, Jr. to survey whether or not the jurors who unwittingly put the GRAMMY-winning Reggae star behind bars “were exposed to extrinsic information” during the second trial.

Prosecutor James Preston, Jr. Venomously Pursued The Reggae Icon

Prosecutor James Preston, Jr. Venomously Pursued The Reggae Icon

One juror, Terri Wright, already admitted to conducting  “research” on aspects of the case, which could be grounds for a new trial (Buju’s third on the same charges). At the upcoming hearing, prosecutor James Preston, Jr. and defense attorney Lumumba will have an opportunity to interview Wright, along with three other jurors (Frank Arnone, Janice Benoit, Steven Boyce) under oath. Judge Moody will then make his ruling.

~~~FREE BUJU LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN~~~

United States Supreme Court
c/o Attorney Chokwe Lumumba
440 N. Mill St.
Jackson, Mississippi 39202
 
Hon. Supreme Court Justices:
 
I am writing this letter in support of Mark Anthony Myrie (Buju Banton).
 
Mr. Myrie has filed a petition in this court seeking review and reversal of drug, conspiracy, weapons possession and phone facilitation convictions occurring in the U.S.District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.
 
The convictions of Mr. Myrie are outrageous and unjust. Mr. Myrie was the victim of a concerted U.S. government effort to entrap, conducted by a corrupt informant who was paid 3.5 million dollars by the government for his services in various cases over the years.
 
Mark Myrie is a Grammy Award winning reggae artiste from Jamaica. He has never been convicted of a crime prior to the present case. He has helped feed numerous hungry children in his country and otherwise contributed to worthy causes in Jamaica and elsewhere. He is supported by hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions worldwide.
 
I ask this honorable court to review his case and grant Mark Myrie the relief he deserves.

***

Please Send Letters To Attorney Lumumba By

JANUARY 31, 2013!

Free Buju
 
**Special thanks to the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee for your tireless efforts to get the word out about this case. Your work is truly appreciated by the entire Gargamel Music Family.
**Extra special thanks to attorney David Oscar Markus for your continued support of Buju and the new legal team. We love you!

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Never Give Up The Fight… Attorneys For Banton File Motion For New Trial

By now you’ve all heard how the United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit basically disregarded the Appeal filed on behalf of Grammy-winning Reggae music icon, Buju Banton, and upheld his controversial conviction for “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute” and “using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offense.”

Adding insult to injury, the overwhelmingly conservative three judge panel led by Chief Justice Joel Fredrick Dubina (a George H. W. Bush appointee), alongside  Circuit Judge Susan Harrell Black (another George H. W. Bush appointee) and Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus (a default Bill Clinton appointee), also reversed trial judge James Moody Jr.‘s common sense decision to throw out a third conviction at Buju’s sentencing hearing last summer: “knowing and intentionally possessing a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense,” which carries an additional 5 year penalty.

It clearly didn’t matter much to Dubina, Black or Marcus that Buju had no priors and has never been involved in the drug trade. Nor did it matter that he did not participate in any negotiations nor was he present at the deal that actually did go down between well-paid government snitch Alexander Johnson and former co-defendants James Mack and Ian Thomas.

As defense attorney David Oscar Markus recently pointed out “a good man is in jail for talking a big game.” He’s also paying the price for simply fighting the powers that be. You may recall that after the first trial eneded in a mistrial, prosecutor James Preston Jr., venemously amended the original indictment, tweaking the gun charge and adding two additional charges, in his attempt to make something stick… And it worked. All this for a man who has spent the last 20 years of his life making incredibly uplifting music for his legion of loyal fans around the world. War on drugs? We think not… This is a war on Buju Banton.

Bouncing back from the latest blow to their client, late yesterday afternoon, the legal team for Banton filed a Renewed Motion For A New Trial with the district Court in Tampa. The 27-page motion duly requests a new trial on all counts, or alternately, a new trial on the gun count only. To be clear, if no new trial is granted by Judge Moody, Buju will automatically be sentenced to an additional 5 years on top to the 10 he is currently serving. Team Banton has nothing to lose and everything to gain by filing this latest motion and we pray that the request is granted.

In the meantime, fans can take solace in knowing that Buju is indeed holding firm despite the loss of the appeal and the harrowing prospect of doing even more time. He is reading avidly, has some access to a guitar (there are 2 or 3 in the facility) and is writing new songs, plus he is even teaching a class at FCI Miami, where he is presently being housed. We encourage you to keep him in your prayers, continue writing those letters of encouragement, and, if you should feel so inclined, drop a little something on his commissary.

MARK ANTHONY MYRIE – 86700-004

FCI MIAMI

FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION

P.O. BOX 779800

MIAMI, FL 33177

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Miami New Times Cover Story Proclaims Buju Banton’s Innocence

Buju Banton Is Innocent

Once again, Jamaican music icon, Buju Banton, is featured on the cover of this week’s Miami New Times. The story, “Buju Banton Is Innocent,” penned by staff writer Chris Sweeney, details the  events leading up to the Reggae star’s arrest, and duly picks apart the government’s case, which hinged on the testimony of career criminal, Alexander Johnson.

A convicted drug trafficker turned government informant, Johnson worked vigorously for months to set Buju up, bringing his potential “big catch” to the attention of pals at the DEA and overzealous prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney James C. Preston, Jr. who he has been working hand-in-hand with for the last 10 years.

Thoroughly researched and incredibly well written, this compelling feature is the first to paint a fuller picture of Buju’s life’s work and the seedy circumstances surrounding the government’s case. Sweeney writes:

“The saga sheds light on how far the government will go and how dirty it will play to win the few big battles left in the long-ago failed War on Drugs. Now, while one of the most successful and controversial Jamaican artists — a man who won a Grammy for best reggae album a year ago — sits in a Miami penitentiary, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is considering whether unconstitutional tactics were used to nail a man who had no known criminal record.”

A sidebar piece in the Broward-Palm Beach New Times takes a closer look at government snitch Johnson, and breaks down the millions of dollars he’s made off the backs of US taxpayers, while working as a confidential informant. Sweeney writes:

“But Johnson isn’t a U.S. citizen, and he’ll never be one due to his felony-laden criminal record. Yet he has managed to earn nearly $3.5 million of taxpayer money while working as a confidential informant. He’s a persistent and crafty snitch who used booze and claims of music industry contacts to lure Buju, a Grammy-winning reggae artist, into environments he may otherwise have avoided.” 

The entire story is available online now. Hard copies will begin circulating in South Florida on Wednesday evening. Big respect to Chris Sweeney and The Miami New Times for making sure the full regarding this case is told.

!!FREE BUJU!!

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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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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
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