Howard Hewett Came Close To Serving 49 Years For Crime That Apparently Wasn’t His Fault

Posted On : October 14, 2021
Howard Hewett now and then

Back in the day, Shalamar member and R&B crooner, Howard Hewett, had a brush with prison life when he was facing a possible 49 year jail sentence. Luckily for him, things turned out for the better, but boy, was it a close call! His then-fiancée wasn’t so lucky though. She ended up reportedly living the prison life for about 4 years.

In 1986, while we were all singing along to Hewett’s classics, like “I’m For Real,” “Stay,” and “Say Amen,” he was about to face the fight of his life in federal court on — get this — drug trafficking charges. Hewett and his then fiancée, Mari Molina, were originally arrested in 1985, in a shopping mall parking lot, by federal officers for possession with intent to distribute a kilo of cocaine.

According to the Sun Sentinal, he was facing up to 49 years in the pen. Check out what else was reported below:

‘Howard’s defense lawyer, Richard Sharpstein, called Howard’s involvement a case of guilt by association. The day they were busted, Hewett rode to Dadeland Mall with his fiancee, Mari Molina, who he has since married, Sharpstein said.

The defense attorney says Molina had been negotiating to sell the kilo, not Hewett. It was Molina who delivered the kilo to an undercover agent in the mall parking lot, not Hewett, he said. Hewett was just waiting in the car, Sharpstein told the jury.’

Just before Hewett’s trial his label, Elektra Records, made sure they had a completed album from him and proceeded to promote it, likely in the event that their then newly signed controversial artist was not going to see the light of day for the next 49 years.

During the ’86 drug trafficking trial, Molina testified that Hewett knew nothing about her drug dealing ways, nor that she was making that drug deal in the mall parking lot. Her testimony, combined with Hewett’s attorney’s presentation of logical facts about him — such as the fact that Hewett was making major money from his hit records, as well as his past Shalamar joints and therefore had no need to risk his freedom and livelihood just to split an approximately $1500 cocaine profit with his fiancee — is what ultimately got his name cleared 100%.

When Hewett stepped out of the courthouse is when he exclaimed, “Praise the Lord. I’m just elated. I feel a new kind of freedom.'”

Molina ended up serving two 4-year sentences that ran concurrently, so she was out in four.

According to what Hewett’s attorney revealed to the press at the time, Hewett married his fiancée, Molina, soon after she was busted as a drug trafficking queen of sorts. However, the relationship didn’t last, and he went on to marry twice more.

Words can’t express how relieved we are that Hewett didn’t end up in jail for 49 years. He would have still been serving that sentence to this very day, with 14 more years to go and his career and those timeless soul jams he’s given us would have been a wrap. This is one time that the American legal system didn’t fail us.

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