Grammy winning rapper/producer and former Wyclef Jean protege John Forte was released from a federal prison in New Jersey yesterday. Forte was originally being held on federal drug charges and served seven years behind bars. In 2001, he was caught with two briefcases containing $1.4 million dollars worth of cocaine at Newark International Airport.

Last month Forte's 14-year conviction was cut short after receiving a pardon from President George W. Bush. He reportedly learned of his impending release from a prison inmate who saw it on the news. Forte was one of 16 prisoners who were pardoned by the president before the end of his term. His freedom is due largely in part to the work of folk singer and friend Carly Simon who lobbied to have his conviction overturned.

The musician has plans of turning his experience into a positive lesson for the youth. "He wants to help young kids understand they have options and help deter them from making some of the mistakes he made," said his lawyer Aarti Tandon. Under the conditions of his freedom Forte must pay a $5,000 fine and will remain under 5-year supervised release.