Elderly Drug Mule Pleads Guilty in Federal Conspiracy Case

89-Year-Old Caught Smuggling Drugs Pleads Guilty in Larger Federal Conspiracy Case

Federal Conspiracy

On Tuesday, October 8th, in a move that will spare him from standing trial, an 89-year-old who worked as a drug mule for one of the most notorious Mexican drug cartels has pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges.

Leo Sharp, from Michigan City, Indiana, appeared in front of the court just a week before his official trial was set to begin. He admitted his involvement in a smuggling operation, bringing 228 pounds of cocaine across the country for Mexico’s most powerful drug cartel.

“In my life, it’s the only time it ever happened,” said Sharp, referring to being in trouble. He admitted to one other incident in Mexico, when he was arrested for filming a prostitute.

Normally, a sentence for federal conspiracy charges is at least 10 years, but Sharp and his attorney asked for a shorter sentence.

“I won’t live that long,” said Sharp as he stood next to his attorney, Darryl Goldberg, who said he plans to ask Judge Nancy Edmunds to give his client less than 5 years in prison. US Assistant Attorney Christopher Graveline has asked that Sharp serve 5 years in a Minnesota prison with medical facilities. He must also forfeit $500,000 worth of Florida property he owned as part of the drug deal.

Edmunds will announce Sharp’s sentence on February 11th.

In 2011, Sharp was pulled over in Washtenaw County, Michigan, based on a tip from federal drug agents. According to reports, Sharp refused to let the state trooper search his vehicle, so investigators brought in a K-9 unit, who signaled that there were drugs in the car. Officers then discovered 104 bricks, or 229 lbs, of cocaine in the bed of the truck. The drugs were valued at $2.9 million.

Sharp’s attorney claims that the seizure was illegal, because state troopers had no probable cause to stop him and search his vehicle. However, Judge Edmunds ruled, earlier this year, in favor of the government.

Prosecution also claim that Sharp is no rookie when it comes to smuggling drugs. As far back as 2000, prosecuting attorneys claim, Sharp worked for Chicago-area drug dealers as a smuggler, ferrying more than 1,400 lbs of cocaine to Michigan between 2009 and 2011. Federal wiretaps report that members of the Sinaloa cartel, based in Sinaloa, Mexico, referred to Sharp as “grandfather” and “the old man.” They reportedly expressed concern about Sharp’s mental state, according to federal conspiracy charges documents.

The charges against Sharp are part of a larger federal conspiracy trial that arrested 18 other people involved in a drug distribution ring, transporting cocaine throughout the Midwest. On Monday, October 7th, three other defendants pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges in front of Judge Edmunds.

Federal Conspiracy Charges

A conspiracy is a mutual understanding to accomplish some common criminal objective, or to work together for a common criminal purpose. Conspiracy is one of the most often used crimes in the arsenal of the United States’ Attorneys’ Office. In federal drug cases, the government only needs to show that you were a member of a federal conspiracy, and you had the intent to advance and maintain the conspiracy (no “overt act” is required).

This all-encompassing charge has the ability to touch almost every Federal Crime. Common conspiracy drug crime charges include:

Often federal prosecutors will use federal conspiracy charges to charge multiple people for the same offense. The harsh reality is that if you are arrested on conspiracy charges you may likely be held accountable for more than the actions than you actually committed.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help Defend Federal Conspiracy Charges

The Strom Law Firm, LLC stands ready to assist you in the defense of a Federal Conspiracy charge. Our criminal defense attorneys have the resources and the experience that you need to provide aggressive representation and to ensure that your legal rights are protected. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so contact us today. 803.252.4800