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Las Vegas tribute artist released in Suriname

PARAMARIBO, Suriname — A judge in Suriname on Friday released a Las Vegas entertainer accused of posing as Toni Braxton at a concert where she was pelted with trash and booed offstage.

Trina Johnson-Finn, who had spent three months in jail, said she would be present at her sentencing Tuesday.

Prosecutors requested she serve a one-year sentence with nine months of it suspended, meaning that even if she receives the full sentence, she already will have served the three months.

The concert promoter has said she was not involved in the scheme that charged up to $53 per ticket for the Feb. 28 concert in Suriname’s capital. A crowd of 3,000 threw bottles and beer cans at her in what has been dubbed the “Phony Toni” concert.

Braxton won six Grammys and is best known for the hit “Un-break My Heart” and appearances on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

Prosecutor Duncan Nanhoe alleged that Johnson-Finn likely came to Suriname as an impersonator but later decided to play along.

“She had several opportunities to pull out of the scam, but she did not,” he said. “She could have decided not to come on stage when Toni Braxton’s name was announced, but she came on.”

The entertainer’s husband, Raymond Finn, said Friday in a phone interview from Las Vegas that the trial has been a huge financial burden and that he would like to give her time to readjust to life in the U.S.

“It’s clearly going to be a period of healing that will be necessary to just get past the experience,” he said. He previously has said that his wife also was duped by the concert promoter.

Concert promoter Angel Ventura and his girlfriend, Signet Sampson, are expected to stand trial in July. Ventura initially said that Johnson-Finn knew about the scam from the beginning, according to police. He later said she was not involved in the scheme.

Johnson-Finn has augmented her 20-year singing career by impersonating various stars as a “tribute artist.”

 

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