Toni Braxton Impersonator Acquitted

The world became a little safer for celebrity tribute acts today with the acquittal of a singer charged with falsely impersonating Toni Braxton.

The not guilty verdict came down in a Suriname courtroom today, although Judge Robby Rodrigues said it wasn’t clear if Trina Johnson-Finn knew the audience was expecting the real Braxton instead of a facsimile.

Photo: AP Photo

Johnson-Finn was pelted with garbage and booed off the stage in the South American country in February after the audience of about 3,000 realized they were getting a faux Toni. According to reports, concert promoters had advertised the show – for which some tickets were priced as high as $53 – as a Braxton appearance.

Johnson-Finn, who spent three months in jail waiting trial, talked with the press after the verdict.

“I’m delighted with the judge’s decision,” Johnson-Finn told reporters. “It was hard dealing with the situation knowing I was innocent. But now I just want to go back home and hug my family, my husband. I haven’t seen them for so long.”

Prosecutors had asked that Johnson-Finn serve a one-year sentence with nine months suspended, meaning she could have been freed today based on time served even if the judge had found her guilty. Johnson-Finn’s lawyer, attorney Kathleen Brandon, said part of the problem was the Surinamese don’t quite understand the concept or the business of celebrity impersonation.

Meanwhile, promoter Angel Ventura and his girlfriend, Signet Sampson, are scheduled to stand trial in July. Ventura originally claimed Johnson-Finn knew the concert was advertised as a genuine Braxton appearance, but later said the tribute singer was not responsible for the scam.