DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A man who may be the country’s oldest drug runner has pleaded guilty in Detroit federal court.
Michigan City, Indiana resident Leo Sharp, 89, was busted on Interstate 94 in Washtenaw County with more than 200 pounds of cocaine in October of 2011.
Sharp was running more than 100 bricks of the drug from Tuscon, Arizona, to Detroit when he was pulled over near Chelsea, 60 miles west of Detroit, after making a bad lane change.
When a state trooper approached, Sharp was upset and declared, “Just kill me and let me leave this planet.”
Sharp, who has no criminal record, later told police he was forced at gunpoint to transport the drugs.
The government says Sharp was an experienced drug mule, having transported more than 1,400 pounds of cocaine to Michigan between 2009 and 2011.
He’s one of 19 people under indictment in the case connected to Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel.
Sharp was facing at least 10 years in prison if he had lost at trial.
In a plea deal, prosecutors have agreed to recommend a five-year prison sentence, noting Sharp’s age and veteran status.
Sharp’s attorney, Darryl Goldberg, says his client was taken advantage of.
“This is a gentleman who’s a Bronze Star recipient in World War II, who’s world famous in his own right for plant hybridizing,” Godlberg said.
“He’s had a wonderful, legitimate … many legitimate careers. So, this is something that is less than fortunate in his golden years,” Godlberg said. “But at the same time, there is somewhat of an explanation for this, and, hopefully, the judge will take all of this into appropriate consideration.”
Goldberg said the government is recommending Sharp be placed in a medical facility.
“Hopefully at Rochester which is, for all intents and purposes, attached to the Mayo Clinic,” Goldberg said. “He would be provided with — I don’t wanna say great — but descent medical care; and if all things go as planned there’s a very good shot he could be out in much less time.”
Sharp will be sentenced in February.
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