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87-year-old arrested in Mich. with $2.9 million worth of cocaine in pickup

Leo Sharp, Oct. 24, 2011
AP Images

(CBS/AP) DETROIT, Mich. - An 87-year-old man was arrested after 104 bricks of cocaine were discovered in his pickup truck during a traffic stop 60 miles west of Detroit.

But he offered an explanation.

The Indiana resident, Leo Sharp, told the judge he had no choice in carrying an enormous amount of the drug: "You're dealing with a man forced to do what I did by gunpoint," he said. State troopers report that with the help of a drug-sniffing dog, they found 229 pounds of cocaine, at least $2.9 million worth, in his vehicle. There is no report on his apparent destination.

In court Monday, Sharp wasn't afraid to speak his mind, though he was warned anything he said could be used against him. He announced he could probably read a book better than anyone in the courtroom, and that he was currently writing one.

"I'm sorry, sir, to be so troublesome," he told the judge. "You're the boss," Sharp said to him, after promising to return to court in November.

His attorney, Ray Richards, revealed that Sharp works on a farm growing legal, exotic plants for an Indiana company, reports the Detroit Free Press. He told the Associated Press outside the courtroom, "I love plants. It's a serious love - except the crap that makes you high. I'm innocent. You'll learn about it."

"I'm sure it was quite an experience for him," Richards said. Sharp is "an eclectic client who found himself in a pretty significant situation."

Sharp is being charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. A conviction could result in a minimum of 10 years in  prison. 

"This will be my first actual drug case where the accused is this old," Richards said of his client. "This case is going to be challenging."

DEA spokesman Rich Isaacson said he couldn't give details of the investigation, but did say that Sharp's role in the incident seems strange. "Drug trafficking groups use all kinds of measures to avoid detection by law enforcement. Using an older gentleman could be another strategy."

  • Katie Wiggin

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