Buju's assets safe for now

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Prosecuting attorneys in the United States are yet to say if they will be going after the assets owned by convicted reggae superstar Buju Banton.

According to a report in the Gleaner, they were unable to get a comment from the prosecutors yesterday, more than 24 hours after a 12-member jury found Buju guilty on three of four drug-related charges.

But lawyers in the US disagree about whether the state has any grounds on which to go after Buju's assets.

David Oscar Markus, the lead attorney for the Grammy-winning reggae icon, yesterday told The Gleaner that there was no basis for the state to move to seize his assets.

Markus, who was obviously devastated over his failure to secure an acquittal for Buju, was curt as he declared the state could not take the assets.

However, controversial Florida-based Jamaican attorney, Professor David Rowe, warned that the US government could still institute forfeiture proceedings against Buju based on the conviction.

Pointing to legal precedent, Rowe said: "Among the statutory grounds for forfeiture are that the property was used or intended for use or to facilitate drug trafficking."

In a superseding indictment handed down last November, prosecutors increased the charges against Buju from two to four and indicated that if he was convicted on any count punishable by imprisonment for more than one year, they would be seeking the forfeiture of some of his assets.

"Mark Anthony Myrie, aka Buju Banton, shall forfeit to the United States ... all of (his) right, title and interest in property constituting and derived from any proceeds ... obtained directly or indirectly as a result of such violations.

"And property used and intended to be used in any manner or part to commit or to facilitate the commission of such violations," read the indictment in part.

It added that if Buju was convicted on the firearm charge, he would have to forfeit the firearm and ammunition to the state.

On Tuesday, a jury found Buju guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and aiding and abetting in using a communication facility ... in facilitating the commission of an act constituting a felony.


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