Jury convicts Pressure's former road manager on drug charges


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ST. THOMAS - A federal jury found a former road manager for a popular Virgin Islands musician guilty of attempted possession of cocaine.

However, the jury did not find Jace Edwards, who worked for Pressure Busspipe, a reggae artist from St. Thomas, guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, according to U.S. Attorney's Office officials.

Edwards was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service on Wednesday after his conviction of the first charge.

"Mr. Edwards was the group's former road manager, and has not been associated with our team for almost three years," said Laurent Alfred, CEO of I Grade Records, the record label currently working with Pressure. "We trust in our judicial system to give him the fair hearing he deserves."

Alfred made clear in an email Wednesday that Edwards no longer was working with Pressure.

Edwards was named in a June 2013 indictment, as were several co-defendants who had their trials late last year.

In October, Edwards' co-defendants went to trial before District Judge Curtis Gomez, the same judge who presided over Edwards' trial, which started Monday in the District Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Of the four men who went to trial, only one, Marlon Underhill, was acquitted of all charges. Underhill was accused of picking up seven kilograms of cocaine from another co-defendant, Thomas Bruce, in July 2011.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nelson Jones said in court Monday that Edwards picked up six kilograms of cocaine from Bruce in October.

It is unclear where Bruce's case stands, as he cooperated with authorities early in the case. Defense attorneys argue that Bruce was taking cocaine from the territory to Atlanta, Ga., and then distributing it.

Defense attorneys for Bruce's co-defendants say that Bruce received a plea agreement from the U.S. Attorney's Office, though no files of the agreement can be found on PACER, an online court records system, and it is unclear whether his case is being handled in Georgia or the Virgin Islands.

If an agreement exists, it is unclear whether Bruce has signed it.

Edwards' co-defendants - Leayle Benjamin, Aben Marrero Jr. and Michael Samuels - were remanded to the Bureau of Corrections after their convictions. Benjamin, who worked at the airport, asked Bruce to transport the cocaine; Marrero, who also worked at the airport, gave Bruce the cocaine to transport - a transaction that took place in the airport; and Michael Samuels sent Edwards to pick up the cocaine, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Benjamin, Marrero and Samuels were found guilty of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine, and possession and distribution of cocaine.

Underhill returned to Atlanta, where he resides. All of the defendants now await sentencing.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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