News

WWII vet, 90, sent to prison for being a ‘drug mule’

WWII vet, 90, sent to prison for being a ‘drug mule’

SENTENCED:Leo Sharp, a decorated World War II combat veteran, admitted to being a drug courier for a Mexican cartel.

By James B. Kelleher

DETROIT (Reuters) – A 90-year-old Indiana man who admitted serving as a cocaine courier for a Mexican drug cartel was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in federal prison.

Leo Sharp, a decorated World War Two combat veteran who turned 90 on Wednesday, was also sentenced to three years supervised release by Judge Nancy Edmunds in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Sharp had told Edmunds before she sentenced him, “All I can tell you your honor is that I’m really heartbroken that I did what I did. But it’s done.”

Afterward, Sharp turned to prosecutors and called the three-year prison term a “death sentence.”

Sharp was pulled over by police in October 2011 for erratic driving on an interstate highway in Michigan with what turned out to be 104 bricks of cocaine in his truck.

Prosecutors said Sharp hauled 1,250 kilograms (2,755 pounds) of cocaine into Michigan from the southwest United States on a half-dozen trips from February 2010 until his arrest, earning $1,000 per kilogram for drugs he transported.

He also hauled duffel bags stuffed with cash back to the southwest border of the United States for the criminal organization that was part of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, prosecutors said.

He pleaded guilty last October to one count of conspiring to distribute cocaine in an agreement with prosecutors that included a recommendation for a prison sentence of five years.

Sharp’s attorneys had asked for supervised release or home confinement, saying he suffers from dementia and other health conditions and needs 24-hour monitoring.

Prosecutors said, however, that Sharp had managed to avoid detection for a decade in part because of his age and was now trying to use his age to shield himself from punishment.

Edmunds departed from both suggestions and said the effort to blame Sharp’s actions on age and dementia was “an insult to all the people who struggle with dementia and don’t become involved in illegal activity.”

Edmunds said Sharp was in the middle of the drug conspiracy.

“This is not a victimless crime,” Edmunds said. “This is a very serious offense.”

Sharp’s plea agreement and reduced charge allowed him to avoid a mandatory 10-year minimum sentence. He agreed to forfeit two properties in Florida and $500,000 cash, but not his home and farm in Michigan City, Indiana.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Jon Herskovitz)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

‘Deflategate’ judge to rule soon after Brady, NFL talks fail

tombrady

The National Football League and its players union failed to reach a settlement in their dispute over New England quarterback Tom Brady's four-game "Deflategate" suspension despite weeks of talks.

in Entertainment, Sports

Hulk Hogan begs forgiveness, wants back in WWE

22-overlay16

The wrestling icon is pleading with fans for their forgiveness after he was caught on tape using a racial slur, insisting the controversial comments were made at the "lowest point" of his life.

in Sports

Ronda Rousey wants you to have a ‘knockout’ breakfast

20-overlay15

The MMA champion has teamed up with fast-food chain Carl's Jr. to pitch their latest breakfast creation.

in National

Arctic chills, messy energy politics await Obama in Alaska

16-overlay16

Shrinking glaciers, Arctic temperatures and a mix of messy energy politics await President Barack Obama as he begins his historic trip to Alaska.

in National

As Common Core results trickle in, initial goals unfulfilled

commoncore

Overall scores are higher than expected, though below what many parents may be accustomed to seeing.