Trina Johnson-Finn played the bogus Braxton at a February 3rd concert in the South American country, but audience members pelted the stage with bottles, food and anything else they could get their hands on once they realized a phoni Toni was on stage.
The fiasco led to the arrest of Johnson-Finn as well as the promoter, Angel Ventura, who charged concertgoers up to $53.
Now Ventura is claiming he alone was responsible for the scam, and that he promoted the event as a bona fide Braxton appearance, while at the same time told Johnson-Finn the audience was expecting a Braxton impersonator.
“I never said to the prosecutor that Trina Johnson knew beforehand that she was part of a scam,” Ventura told the judge on the first day of the singer’s trial.
But Johnson-Finn, who has made her living impersonating artists for 20 years, isn’t getting off that easy. Prosecutors claim she intentionally tried to pass herself off as the real Braxton, and Venture’s testimony doesn’t clear her of any wrongdoing.
Johnson-Finn’s Suriname lawyer, Kathleen Brandon, begs to differ, saying her client had been unjustly jailed for three months and that she should be released immediately.
“Ventura told her to go all out as an impersonator and play a role in the whole thing. She thought that everyone knew that she was just an impersonator, but Ventura did not tell anyone in Suriname,” Brandon said.
So far, the judge has refused to release Johnson-Finn. Meanwhile a Web site has sprung up defending the tribute singer – FreeTrina.com – claiming the singer is being used as a scapegoat and that not one Suriname citizen has been arrested for the faux Braxton debacle.
Click here for FreeTrina.com.
For Pollstar’s previous coverage, please click here and here.