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Cocaine ‘mule,’ WWII vet gets 3-year prison sentence on his 90th birthday

By James B. Kelleher, Reuters

Posted May 08, 2014, at 5:53 a.m.

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

Leo Sharp, a decorated World War II 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 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 duffle 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.

Edited by Micmac
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He made over a million dollars from 2010 to his arrest in 2011. How much did he make prior??? He was very industrious...even at almost 87 years old he was hauling coke. Dang.

 

I'm 54 and don't want to walk across the street for a cheeseburger.

Edited by badndn
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I been flat busted broke a coupla times, thought about doin' some weird schitt, but don't think I coulda ever got in bed with a Mexican cartel.

 

I don't see a thing wrong with thievery from the government, banks, insurance companies, big oil, etc, actually think it oughta be encouraged. Stealin' from the cartels is okay too, if yer smart enough and are willin' to deal with the consequences.

 

Helping to put the schitt the cartels put out into the dumbass working class oughta be dealt with swift and merciless.

 

Likewise stealin' from poor folks, and that's the middle class down, oughta be dealt with the same way.

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I think if he was younger he would've been put in jail until he was 90. Could've been a 'lil senile and been encouraged as well. Still he was sharp enough to acquire as much real estate as Donald Trumph. Like you said Robin, I've been busted a time or two but never thought of slinging dope. I have nothing in the world against any individuals personal use of illicit substance,in fact I am in favor of legalizing it and harnessing the revenue to fund treatment of addiction and other social welfare programs. I made a personal choice many years ago to live a drug free lifestyle, and do not impose my views on anyone else. Before I retired, it took $47,000 a year to incarcerate an offender in this state. I always questioned the wisdom of locking someone of for years for a pound of herb. Spending a quarter of a million dollars to lock someone up for weed, not to mention his family being without primary support, then they go on food stamps, welfare, free lunches, medicaid, the math becomes quite fuzzy. However I digress......

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Damn, what the hell are you going to do at 87-90, sit around and watch your hands turn brown?

 

LOL, the ol dude is smuggling, working the real estate market, the Sineolas are not to be messed with, so he's still a bad ass :)

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We got this guy not really bothering anyone and then we have millions taking handouts. And look which one is looked at as bad!

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He knew it was illegal, he did it anyway. Now he got caught and he goes to jail. I have not one bit of sympathy for anyone slinging hard drugs, especially for a cartel. Do the crime, now do the time.

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I agree blu. Like it or not the law is the law. You get caught you pay the piper. Another very uncool thing about stuff like this is no income tax is paid on any of the money. Makes the little guys like me and you pull the load while they make millions and buy mansions. Now the debate on whether I personally think it should be illegal is another subject. Would be interesting to have a good discussion about that here.

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I agree blu. Like it or not the law is the law. You get caught you pay the piper. Another very uncool thing about stuff like this is no income tax is paid on any of the money. Makes the little guys like me and you pull the load while they make millions and buy mansions. Now the debate on whether I personally think it should be illegal is another subject. Would be interesting to have a good discussion about that here.

Agreed. .Sin should be taxed and taxed hard. Colorodo was right in legalizing pot and now the state is raking in millions. Hard drugs? I do not think they should be legal, to much socialtal downside, IMHO.

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If they sell it for $10.00 and we know who is buying it, they won't have to kick our doors in, or rob us to get money. It is already done in many states, it's called the State Liquor Store.

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The state got cash and property that is all they are interested in.

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I think if he was younger he would've been put in jail until he was 90. Could've been a 'lil senile and been encouraged as well. Still he was sharp enough to acquire as much real estate as Donald Trumph. Like you said Robin, I've been busted a time or two but never thought of slinging dope. I have nothing in the world against any individuals personal use of illicit substance,in fact I am in favor of legalizing it and harnessing the revenue to fund treatment of addiction and other social welfare programs. I made a personal choice many years ago to live a drug free lifestyle, and do not impose my views on anyone else. Before I retired, it took $47,000 a year to incarcerate an offender in this state. I always questioned the wisdom of locking someone of for years for a pound of herb. Spending a quarter of a million dollars to lock someone up for weed, not to mention his family being without primary support, then they go on food stamps, welfare, free lunches, medicaid, the math becomes quite fuzzy. However I digress......

 

Always the voice of reason, Pete. I agree completely.

 

If they sell it for $10.00 and we know who is buying it, they won't have to kick our doors in, or rob us to get money. It is already done in many states, it's called the State Liquor Store.

 

Even right-wing thinkers and economists have come around to the 'legalize and tax it' way of thinking. And Blu, I have to disagree with you on hard drugs. Legalize everything. That doesn't mean you have to put heroin and cocaine in the corner store with the Budweisers, but consider this: It cannot be denied that the War on Drugs has been an absolute failure ... Well, it's been a huge success for the industries that have been built on both sides of it - the enforcement and private prison side and the cartel side. But it's done nothing to stem the flow of illegal drugs, or the crime that results. Look at the cost to society - billions of dollars wasted on enforcement and imprisonment and god knows what else, and that's just the financial cost. As Pete said, then there's the double-whammy cost of taking people out of the work force while having to support their families. I seriously doubt that legalizing heroin and cocaine will result in millions more people becoming addicted any more than having liquor available in Costco results in more people becoming alcoholics. At least the quality of the drugs would be assured so that you don't have people dying from impure or too pure product.

 

And then there's the fact that hemp (no active THC content), which is one of the most useable and renewable plants in the world, is as illegal as marijahoona. Anyone ever seen "Grass", the documentary by Woody Harrelson? The USA's first 'drug czar', who lobbied and browbeat and intimidated every state in the union, and most countries in the world, to outlaw pot, was DuPont's brother-in-law (or some such other relative). Guess what DuPont's biggest competition was for his nylon rope? Shazam!! Hemp. And the kewpie doll goes to .....

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What term "right wing" others might call Libertarian. There is no denying there is a huge problem in North America with drugs. I don't care how many Mounties, FBI Agents, CrossWalk Guards you hire, that has not changed. I read somewhere once they "Insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting different results", nothing could be more apt in regards to the present state of drug use and the laws passed to stem the tide of drug use. Simply stated it's not working. I do not condone the sale of drugs on the street corner by a government agency. However, if drug sales regulated and managed it would solve several issues. Firstly it would remove the criminal element of sales. When profit is removed, the crime affiliated with it would dissipate. Secondly, the funds generated by the sale could be utilized by the government to add funding towards the treatment of addiction where the present fund stream has virtually disappeared in the last 10 years. Thirdly, the prisons would empty. The United States has the highest percentage of it's population incarcerated than any other "civilized" nation. Lastly. jobs would be created. I would still incarcerate dope dealers like the gentleman in the above listed story. Additionally, anyone caught outside the framework of government sale of drugs would be punished to the fullest extent of the law, much as what occurs to moonshiners at present. Is my idea without controversy? Of course not. I do not have the politician mentality to work out all the minor details, but what we have been doing the last 40 years has not been working.

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Complicated subject. Legalizing drugs doesn't help the problem. Also doesn't stop the black market with most drugs.It's not the occasional user that is the problem. It's not the occasional user that drives the drug business. It is the addict. Yes, there are pot addicts. I know many. Stayed stoned all day and collect goverment handouts. A good indicator of what happens when you legalize drugs is the legal heroin trade. I am talking about hydrocodone, oxycontin and a bunch of other "pain" medications. Almost anybody that is prescribed these drugs has the potential to become an addict. I know many functional addicts of these drugs that get their prescription filled and supplement that with black market. Cannot live without them. Will lie to their family, their doctor and steal to get them. I see lives and familes ruined by meth. Meth is so cheap, so readily available and easy to make, it may as well be legal. (or free) The problem is...a large percentage of the population can't control themselves, they can't stop and don't want to. If you make it any EASIER to get these drugs they will do them until they die. Although futile, the war on drugs is like the war on murder. Surely we can't make people stop murdering each other, but maybe by having a penalty of sorts may cause them to stop and think before acting. Like I said...it's complicated. The Libertarian side of me says it ain't Govco's business and they should butt out. But when Govco becomes the nurse maid in so many facets of your life it is impossible to include them in some parts and exclude them in others.

Edited by badndn
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The biggest opponent of legalized drugs is the illegal drug industry....

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Complicated subject. Legalizing drugs doesn't help the problem. Also doesn't stop the black market with most drugs.It's not the occasional user that is the problem. It's not the occasional user that drives the drug business. It is the addict. Yes, there are pot addicts. I know many. Stayed stoned all day and collect goverment handouts. A good indicator of what happens when you legalize drugs is the legal heroin trade. I am talking about hydrocodone, oxycontin and a bunch of other "pain" medications. Almost anybody that is prescribed these drugs has the potential to become an addict. I know many functional addicts of these drugs that get their prescription filled and supplement that with black market. Cannot live without them. Will lie to their family, their doctor and steal to get them. I see lives and familes ruined by meth. Meth is so cheap, so readily available and easy to make, it may as well be legal. (or free) The problem is...a large percentage of the population can't control themselves, they can't stop and don't want to. If you make it any EASIER to get these drugs they will do them until they die. Although futile, the war on drugs is like the war on murder. Surely we can't make people stop murdering each other, but maybe by having a penalty of sorts may cause them to stop and think before acting. Like I said...it's complicated. The Libertarian side of me says it ain't Govco's business and they should butt out. But when Govco becomes the nurse maid in so many facets of your life it is impossible to include them in some parts and exclude them in others.

Yup, this! Booze is addictive, but Meth and cocaine are way more addictive from what little I know. Making those drugs legal and easy to obtain will likely foster a huge increase in addicts who will end up on the gov't dole and steal to feed their habits. Just that the funds will not go to the cartels and such. Treatment is the answer, but I don't see the political will to make the choices needed to deal with it properly.

 

One more point about the original topic. If the person caught for transporting drugs and cash for the cartel was a 25 yo black guy, would this story have made the news? Would there be any sympathy for him? I think not. Lady Justice wears a blindfold for a reason, the system is supposed to be blind to whom is addressing.

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And then there's the fact that hemp (no active THC content), which is one of the most useable and renewable plants in the world, is as illegal as marijahoona. Anyone ever seen "Grass", the documentary by Woody Harrelson? The USA's first 'drug czar', who lobbied and browbeat and intimidated every state in the union, and most countries in the world, to outlaw pot, was DuPont's brother-in-law (or some such other relative). Guess what DuPont's biggest competition was for his nylon rope? Shazam!! Hemp. And the kewpie doll goes to .....

 

If you follow this train of logic, if hemp hadn't been made illegal, DuPont may have gone out of business. This was, I think, around the same time when DuPont was making those thingamabobs called Indian Motocycles. Where would we be now?

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The biggest opponent of legalized drugs is the illegal drug industry....

True to an extent but the biggest opponents are people who still see us as a somewhat civilized species that still has morals. Not perfect, but at least some sort of conscience about right and wrong and the betterment of the species. I don't speak from a personal standpoint, but trying to point out that as a civilized society, we tend to try to gravitate away from things that ruin lives. i said TEND. to TRY.

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True to an extent but the biggest opponents are people who still see us as a somewhat civilized species that still has morals. Not perfect, but at least some sort of conscience about right and wrong and the betterment of the species. I don't speak from a personal standpoint, but trying to point out that as a civilized society, we tend to try to gravitate away from things that ruin lives. i said TEND. to TRY.

I can't wait for legalization... we as civilized society have a lot better places we could spend our money... or we couldd not spend it at all... I don't believe things would get worse.. I believe they would get better... if you want it now you can get it very easily.... we would free up places in prison for real criminals... lose the DEA or at least reduce it or absorb its function into ATF...

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the old fella knew what he was doing and I have no regret in the sentence he was given...and think for what he was doing he should have gotten LIFE...even if it was 2 years he lasted or 20 years.

 

If it was the first time he did it and was busted....yeah feel sorry a little...made bad decision and has to pay now. THis guy was rolling in the bucks like a fat cat (no pun)...houses, cars, land, etc......he was fully aware of the consequences just as much as he was aware of the potential profit.

 

fuck em.

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I can't wait for legalization... we as civilized society have a lot better places we could spend our money... or we couldd not spend it at all... I don't believe things would get worse.. I believe they would get better... if you want it now you can get it very easily.... we would free up places in prison for real criminals... lose the DEA or at least reduce it or absorb its function into ATF...

you think the world would be a better place if you could buy heroin and meth at the gas station?
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Yup, this! Booze is addictive, but Meth and cocaine are way more addictive from what little I know. Making those drugs legal and easy to obtain will likely foster a huge increase in addicts who will end up on the gov't dole and steal to feed their habits. Just that the funds will not go to the cartels and such. Treatment is the answer, but I don't see the political will to make the choices needed to deal with it properly.

 

One more point about the original topic. If the person caught for transporting drugs and cash for the cartel was a 25 yo black guy, would this story have made the news? Would there be any sympathy for him? I think not. Lady Justice wears a blindfold for a reason, the system is supposed to be blind to whom is addressing.

So what's wrong with letting the idiots kill themselves? Give them a place and all they want. Have a hole dug, then throw them away. Can anyone tell me what good an addict is?

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