TAMPA – Stephen Marley, the son of reggae icon Bob Marley, is offering to post his south Florida home to secure the release of Jamaican musician Buju Banton.
A jury deadlocked last month in Banton’s federal drug trial; he’s expected to have a retrial in December. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.
The four-time Grammy nominee has been held without bail since his arrest in December. A federal judge has said he would allow Banton to be released pending his next trial under a combination of conditions that amount to house arrest
Stephen Marley, a six-time Grammy winner who beat Banton to win the best reggae album award this year, testified during Banton’s trial that the two have known each other for 19 years and that he has never known Banton to be involved with cocaine.
“He’s a close friend of mine,” Marley said. “I love him.”
Marley said Banton is important to Jamaica. Referring to Banton’s album “Voice of Jamaica,” Marley said, “That really sums up who Buju is to us.”
Banton’s attorney, David Oscar Markus notified the court today that Marley is willing to post his Miami-Dade property, valued at $350,000, to secure Banton’s release.
U.S. Magistrate Anthony Porcelli also required that Banton pay for a private security detail to be with him at all times. Porcelli told the defense to make the arrangements, and said he would schedule a hearing if the prosecution objects.
Markus notified the court that Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston opposes use of the security companies contacted on behalf of the singer because they do not employ off-duty law enforcement officers, an arrangement Markus says would be too costly.
Porcelli has scheduled a hearing Wednesday to address the issue.
Initially, a friend in St. Petersburg offered to put up his home to secure Banton’s release. However, an appraisal determined the home did not have the $250,000 in equity required by the judge, Markus said in his court filing.
So Marley has offered to substitute his property.
If and when Banton is released, his attorneys will then have to ask an immigration judge to issue a similar order, as immigration authorities have placed a hold on the singer.
Porcelli said he will also order Banton to sign a waiver of extradition to allow authorities to get him back in the event he flees the country. He also must undergo random drug testing and surrender his passport.