Reggae star Buju Banton was convicted on Tuesday in a Florida court on drug charges. He now faces up to 15 years in prison, stemming from three of four federal counts.
“Obviously, we are all upset and disappointed and emotional,” said Banton’s lawyer, David Markus, after the jury spent 11 hours deliberating the verdict. “The only person who seems to be okay is Buju. He told us he was happy that he fought, knowing he was innocent.”
In 2009, the singer was arrested during a Drug Enforcement Agency sting operation after police claimed he tried to buy cocaine from undercover officials. Banton went to trial for the matter but the case was declared a mistrial when the jury failed to reach a verdict.
“Our life and destiny are sometimes pre-destined and no matter where this journey takes me, remember I fought the good fight,” said Banton in a statement. “It was a great man that said ‘my head is bloody but still unbowed.’ I love you all, thank you for your support.”
Buju Banton’s contributions both politically and musically have been celebrated today in Jamaica, where radio stations continuously played his music. He also won a Grammy this past month for his album Before Dawn. Although he will likely make bail before his sentencing, it is not clear when the sentencing is scheduled.
UPDATE: Buju Banton has been sentenced to 10 years in prison stemming from conspiracy charges to deal cocaine. He was found guilty on “conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense.”
U.S. District Judge James S. Moody received dozens of notes pleading for leniency from his several children, an NBA player and actor Danny Glover, who branded Banton a “role model, philanthropist and spiritual leader in the community.”
Moody threw out a gun charge, which would have tacked on an additional five years to his sentence. He will serve five years of probation following his release.