by Dave Rodney
Reggae icon and hit-maker Denroy Morgan, who was last September charged with possession of 25 pounds of marijuana in the Bronx, New York, walked away from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in lower Manhattan virtually unscathed with only 90 days' probation and a court filing fee of US$25.
The patriarch of one of reggae's most acclaimed bands, Morgan Heritage, and the father of recent breakout artiste Laza 'One By One' Morgan, was initially facing the possibility of a jail term of up to 20 years and fines of up to US$300,000.
"I am totally aware of my bad judgement in this matter and I want to thank the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom I sent up unending prayers, hoping for a merciful outcome in this matter," said Morgan.
"Once again, my God has proved that as he stood by Daniel in the lion's den, he has also stood by me in my hour of need," he continued.
Morgan, who rocked dance floors on both sides of the Atlantic with his Billboard smash single I'll Do Anything for You, had been caught leaving a house with a package in the Bronx during a surveillance that had not targeted him. The case was dropped by the Bronx Supreme Court after an indictment was filed by the Federal Government charging him with possession and distribution of marijuana.
Sabrina T. Shroft, Morgan's no-nonsense attorney negotiated a guilty plea to a lesser charge of misdemeanour possession with district judge Honourable Paul A. Crotty. The attorney successfully argued that Morgan had no intention to distribute the marijuana for profit but he bought it for spiritual use.
Prosecutor Michael Ferrara was also in agreement with the deal. The case is now completed and closed, and the judge wished Denroy Morgan every success on his musical and spiritual journeys.
After the sentencing, Morgan spoke eloquently on the qualities of mercy and grace, quoting from the Bible - Galatians 6:4.
Morgan's next onstage appearance is on December 22 in New York for Christmas In The Rockaways, where he is one of the headline performers bringing holiday cheer to hundreds of Hurricane Sandy victims in New York.
Morgan, who is also the father of 32 children, will release an auto-biography called Shepherd of A Man and several new recordings in the new year.