Reggae singer Banton gets 10-year prison sentence

TAMPA, Florida Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:12am EDT

Grammy award winner Buju Banton (L) of Jamaica leaves the federal courthouse with attorney David Markus (R) in Tampa, Florida, February 14, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

Grammy award winner Buju Banton (L) of Jamaica leaves the federal courthouse with attorney David Markus (R) in Tampa, Florida, February 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Steve Nesius

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - Grammy award-winning reggae singer Buju Banton was sentenced on Thursday to 10 years in a U.S. federal prison for his conviction on a cocaine conspiracy charge.

The Jamaican singer, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was convicted in February by a jury in Tampa, Florida, on charges of conspiring with two other men to possess at least 11 pounds (5 kg) of cocaine.

Myrie, 37, argued unsuccessfully that he was entrapped by a government informant.

He won the Grammy for the best Reggae album of 2010, "Before the Dawn," on February 13, the day before his trial began.

At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge James Moody said the 10-year sentence was the minimum he could give under federal guidelines. He said the maximum was 151 months.

"This is a sad day for Mr. Myrie. This is a sad day for Jamaica," said defense lawyer David Markus. "He's a good man who has done great things in his life."

But federal prosecutor James Preston said Myrie was instrumental to what took place and lied in court about his role in the drug deal.

Myrie did not make a statement. He smiled as he was led away.

Markus asked that Myrie be allowed to serve his sentence as close to Miami as possible so he could be near his family. He was living there when he was arrested in December 2009.

(Editing by Jane Sutton and Eric Walsh)

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