TAMPA, Fla. — Buju Banton will be leaving friends, family, fans and his 15 children in the free world as he heads off to serve time in prison.
A federal judge sentenced the 38-year-old Grammy award winning singer, whose real name is Mark Myrie, to a 10-year prison term for a 2009 cocaine trafficking case.

The sentence is lengthy, but ironically it is the lowest legally allowed for his offense.

U.S. District Judge James S. Moody threw out a gun conviction against Banton, which could have added another five years to his time.

David Markus, Banton’s attorney, said the singer could be released within six years with time already served and good behavior.

Banton blew a kiss to his friends, family and supporters as he was led away in shackles, thanking them all for their support.

“The days that lie ahead are filled with despair, but I have courage and grace and I’m hopeful, and that is sufficient to carry me through,” he said in a written statement provided by his attorney. “The man is not dead. Don’t call him a ghost.”

According to the Associated Press, a jury found Banton guilty in February of 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.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Banton did not put any money into the drug deal nor did he ever profit from it. Markus characterized his client as “a big talker” who admitted to trying to impress the confidential informant but wasn’t involved in any drug deal.

That informant, who provided audio and video tapes to authorities, was said to make $50,000 after the bust.

We wish Buju Banton and his family well during what will obviously be a tough time ahead.

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