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89-year-old drug courier pleads guilty in Detroit

By Ed White

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 10:57 a.m. HST, Oct 08, 2013

DETROIT » An 89-year-old Indiana man who grows lilies pleaded guilty today in Detroit to serving as a drug mule in a scheme to distribute more than 1,400 pounds of cocaine.

Leo Sharp of Michigan City, Ind., is one of the oldest criminal defendants in Detroit's federal court. He was contrite and very talkative during his appearance, saying he had never before committed a crime and that he worked for a drug organization because he needed money.

"In six months I'll be 90," Sharp said.

Sharp was 87 in 2011 when a Michigan state trooper pulled his pickup truck over on Interstate 94, west of Detroit. Anxious and upset about what the trooper would find, he declared, "Just kill me and let me leave this planet."

In court, Sharp wore a dark suit that had a lapel pin signifying his service in World War II. He playfully winked at drug agents in the second row who investigated the case. His hearing aids weren't strong enough so U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds invited Sharp to stand just a few feet away from her.

"You knew it was cocaine, right?" Edmunds asked.

"I did," Sharp replied. "Oh, yes."

The delivery of more than 200 pounds wasn't Sharp's first interstate haul. He admitted he was responsible for transporting more than 1,400 pounds of drugs that originated in Arizona. In a court filing, the government said it has evidence that Sharp was transporting marijuana and cocaine from the West Coast back in 2000.

"It was kind of a bad decision to make at this time of life," the judge said.

Nonetheless, prosecutors are showing mercy by recommending a five-year prison sentence because of Sharp's age and his war service. It's a significant break: The sentencing guidelines, which aren't mandatory, call for a minimum of 14 years.

Defense attorney Darryl Goldberg said he will ask for less than five years when Sharp returns to court on Feb. 11.

Goldberg repeatedly told Sharp that he wasn't required to say much beyond what the judge asked him. While explaining he had a clean record, Sharp said his only brush with the law was an incident in Mexico where he was "taking motion pictures of a prostitute."

"Don't feel you have to confess to me," Edmunds said later.

Sharp owes $500,000 as part of the plea deal and has agreed to give up his lily nursery in Apopka, Fla. He'll be allowed to keep his Indiana home.

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Bdpapa wrote:
Job opening for seniors!
on October 8,2013 | 01:39PM
false wrote:
Way to go Leo. Go out in a blaze of glory. At your age, who cares about consequences.
on October 8,2013 | 01:54PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
IRT false, you're on a roll of making dumb statments.
on October 8,2013 | 05:09PM
MexMe wrote:
I think false made a good point. He didn't care about consequences at all. He had a lily business but wanted more. He had been muling since he was 76 years old (more than ten years of breaking the law so Sharp's argument that he had never broken the law before is ridiculous). He was repentant only because he was caught. And he gets to keep his house? Why? To leave it to his family when he dies while serving the five years? Why should he get that right?
on October 8,2013 | 09:06PM
HD36 wrote:
They will never stop drugs. The Cartel has hundreds of other mules waiting in the wings. They pick people who don't fit the profile and stay away from Mexican men. The only way to stop them is to legalize drugs. Those who die using them will be one less mouth to feed.
on October 8,2013 | 05:10PM
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