Speed Reads

Crime and punishment

On his 90th birthday, man sentenced to prison for drug trafficking

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Leo Sharp is a World War II veteran, Bronze Star recipient, and once ran a business selling daylilies to clients around the world. Wednesday was his 90th birthday, and also the day he was sentenced to three years in prison for smuggling cocaine.

A resident of northwest Indiana, Sharp was driving on I-94 two years ago when Michigan State Police pulled him over and discovered a truckload of cocaine; the 87-year-old was promptly arrested. While out on bond, Sharp admitted to ABC7 Chicago that he was a cocaine courier, but would kill himself before going to prison. "I won't live in a toilet with bars," he said. "Ever."

During the sentencing, Sharp's attorney, Darryl Goldberg, said that his client suffered from dementia and was taken advantage of by the Sinaloa Cartel. He asked that instead of being sent to prison, Sharp serve out his time confined at home. Judge Nancy Edmunds was not swayed by Sharp's age, military service, or health concerns, and said the case was "difficult and disgusting."

Sharp cried during the hearing, and announced that he was "heartbroken." As he left the court, he told ABC7's Chuck Goudie that he regretted his decision to become a drug trafficker, but reiterated the fact that he would take his own life before spending one day in prison. "That's right," he said. "I'll [expletive] kill myself the moment I get in."