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Man, 89, grows lilies, but transports cocaine because he 'needed the money'

| Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 8:54 p.m.

DETROIT — An 89-year-old Indiana man who grows lilies pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Detroit to serving as a drug mule to distribute more than 1,400 pounds of cocaine.

Leo Sharp of Michigan City, Ind., is one of the oldest criminal defendants in Detroit's federal court. He was contrite and very talkative during his appearance, saying he had never before committed a crime and that he worked for drug dealers because he needed money.

“In six months, I'll be 90,” Sharp said.

Sharp was 87 in 2011 when a Michigan state trooper pulled his pickup truck over on Interstate 94, west of Detroit. Anxious and upset about what the trooper would find, he declared, “Just kill me and let me leave this planet.”

In court, Sharp wore a dark suit that had a lapel pin signifying his service in World War II. He playfully winked at drug agents in the second row who investigated the case. His hearing aids weren't strong enough, so U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds invited Sharp to stand just a few feet away from her.

“You knew it was cocaine, right?” Edmunds asked.

“I did,” Sharp replied. “Oh, yes.”

The delivery of more than 200 pounds wasn't Sharp's first interstate haul. He admitted he was responsible for transporting more than 1,400 pounds of drugs that originated in Arizona.

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