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Man Charged in Theft of Ray Charles' Tapes

Los Angeles – Bail was reduced for a longtime sound engineer of the late Ray Charles following his arrest two weeks ago on allegations of stealing the singer’s master recordings, authorities said.

Terry Howard, 48, of Burbank is charged with two counts of grand theft by embezzlement from Ray Charles Enterprises and one count of receiving stolen property.

At a hearing Tuesday, Superior Court Commissioner Dennis Mulcahy said Howard had no prior record and reduced bail from $1 million to $100,000.

Howard, arrested at his home Feb. 17, was scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on March 28.

An executive with Ray Charles Enterprises called police after visiting Howard at his home last month and seeing boxes of the singer’s recordings, including master recordings, according to KCBS-TV, citing police.

“We did a search warrant on his home and we recovered several hundred items that had been identified as belonging to Ray Charles Enterprises,” Detective Donald Hrycyk told the news station.

Defense attorney Steven Cron said he was convinced of Howard’s innocence.

“Ray Charles counted on him for many, many years… He’s basically been working for Ray Charles for 20 years,” the attorney said. “People just love this guy and respect him.”

In a prepared statement, Charles publicist Jerry Digney said: “Whatever the outcome, Ray Charles Enterprises puts a high value on its assets, especially its master tapes and will do its utmost to insure their safety and proper handling along with protecting other irreplaceable valuables belonging to the late entertainer and to his estate.”

Howard was one of the sound engineers on Charles’ last album, the 2004 “Genius Loves Company,” which won eight Grammys and album of the year.

The famed singer and musician died June 10 at his Beverly Hills home of acute liver disease. He was 73.

Last year’s biopic about Charles, “Ray,” earned actor Jamie Foxx an Oscar for best actor.

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