Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 4:42 p.m.
A panel of judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta on Thursday shot down Grammy-winning reggae artist Buju Banton's appeal on federal drug charges. The judges also reversed the lower court's decision to throw out a gun charge. Now the same judge who decided there wasn't enough evidence to hold Buju accountable for the gun will have to decide whether to grant a new trial on the gun charge.
"I'm sick to my stomach over this opinion," Buju's attorney David Oscar Markus told the New Times in an email. "I truly believe that a good man is in jail for talking a big game. I will continue to fight for him."
As extensively documented by the New Times, the case against Buju was built by a confidential informant with clear financial motives to the see the singer convicted and a lengthy criminal record, including getting caught bringing an astonishing 700 kilos of cocaine into the U.S.
Most troublesome is that the informant, Alex Johnson, has earned nearly $3.5 million of untaxed income, enough to purchase a plush home in a gated community out in Davie. Despite his abundant wealth, the snitch has failed to pay taxes and owed the IRS upwards of $200,000 while he was pursuing Buju.
The feds built their case around recordings in which Buju bragged about being an international cocaine dealer. Yet the DEA agent who spearheaded the investigation testified in court that there was no evidence indicating that Buju was in fact a drug dealer. It should also be noted that the vast majority of recordings were made after the informant plied Buju with alcohol.
As we previously noted, Buju was hundreds of miles away from the drug deal, and was unaware that it was going down. He also never met or spoke with the guy from Georgia who drove to Florida with a gun to purchase the drugs.
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