90-Year-Old Drug Mule Handed Prison on Birthday

Leo Sharp is also a World War II veteran
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2014 1:03 AM CDT
90-Year-Old Drug Mule Handed Prison on Birthday
Leo Sharp walks toward US District Court before his scheduled sentencing, Wednesday, May 7, 2014, in Detroit.   (AP Photo/Ed White)

Leo Sharp turned 90 yesterday ... while sitting in federal court in Detroit, where he was sentenced to three years in federal prison for his role in a drug smuggling operation. The Indiana man, a World War II veteran, was convicted of hauling cocaine between Mexico and Detroit for a Mexican drug cartel; he was arrested in 2011 near Ann Arbor, where he was found with almost $3 million worth of cocaine in his pickup during a traffic stop, the Detroit Free Press reports. In court yesterday, Sharp said he's "heartbroken" about his crime, and threatened suicide: "I won’t live in prison, I’m just going to end my life if I end up there."

His lawyer pleaded with the judge to reconsider the sentence, arguing that Sharp suffers from dementia and the condition caused him to use "bad judgment," the AP reports. He also spoke at length about Sharp's military service, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star ("before we were even born, he was on top of mountains fighting Nazis," the lawyer asserted). But the judge would not relent, noting that the dementia argument was an "insult to all the people who have dementia and don't get involved in illegal activity." She added that she'd basically be sending a message to drug dealers that "if you want to inoculate your organization from punishment ... get an elderly person to do your deliveries for you." Sharp, who the government says was paid more than $1 million by the cartel, agreed to pay the government $500,000 and give up property in Florida; his prison date has not yet been set. (More weird crimes stories.)

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