Feds use I-Team report in efforts to send 90-year-old drug trafficker to prison

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Federal prosecutors are using an I-Team report in their efforts to send a 90-year old drug trafficker to prison. Leo Sharp from Michigan City, Indiana will be sentenced Wednesday in a Detroit courtroom.

On Wednesday in federal court, Leo Sharp's Chicago attorney will argue that Sharp is old, ill and that the drug crime he admits was an aberration, that he shouldn't go to prison for long or at all.

But in a memo from federal prosecutors obtained by the I-Team, the government is asking that the 90-year-old war veteran be locked up for five years, in part because of an I-Team interview where Sharp finds nothing wrong with selling cocaine.

Leo Sharp's case has attracted attention around the world for what he admits doing: working as a courier for Mexico's most ruthless drug operation, the Sinaloa Cartel. Sharp was an octogenarian when he was arrested by Michigan State Police with a pick-up truckload of cocaine.

ABC7's Chuck Goudie: "Why would they have picked you to put this cocaine in your van?"
Sharp: "Because an old man is not gonna be bothered by cops, driving through Arizona."
Goudie: "But you were bothered in Michigan."
Sharp: "I was busted up there, obviously."
Goudie: "Did you know that was cocaine in your van?"
Sharp: "I did. I did."

Sharp claimed the cartel pressed him into servitude on that one occasion. But in this newly-filed government sentencing memo, prosecutors say Sharp had been a drug courier for the better part of a decade; they contend he made seven trips to Michigan carrying hundreds of kilos of cocaine and duffle bags stuffed with drug money. Authorities contend he was motivated the fact that he was nothing wrong with the trafficking of cocaine and greed. Authorities point to a story by the I-Team as proof.

In the memo asking for a five-year sentence, they say that during our interview the defendant revealed his philosophical views on cocaine when he equated the cocoa plant to the daylilies he raised.

"All God's plants that cheer people up are created for a purpose. To take depressed people's minds and make them feel good," said Sharp.

Before his arrest, Leo Sharp was indeed a world-reknowned horticulturist raising champion daylilies from farms in northwest Indiana and Florida. He served in World War II and was decorated for heroism. On Wednesday, Mr. Sharp goes into a different kind of record book: living proof that one is never too old to make a bad decision, and never too old to be punished for it.

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