A Blow For Your Nose
Was Grandpa pulling off a deal of a lifetime, or is he a kindly old gentleman caught in a trap?
He’s a senior citizen driving in the fast lane to trouble.
State troopers pulled over 87-year-old Leo Earl Sharp on a Michigan interstate Friday and discovered 104 bricks of cocaine in the back of his pickup truck with an estimated street value of $2.9 million.
Sharp was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, but after spending the weekend in a Detroit jail cell, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Randon allowed Sharp to go free on $10,000 bond. Sharp’s next scheduled court appearance is Nov. 10.
During his detention hearing yesterday, Sharp, who has no criminal record, told the judge that he had been forced “at gunpoint” to deliver the 228 pounds of cocaine.
Sharp, a horticulturalist and lecturer, lives in Michigan City, Ind., and is the owner of Brookwood Gardens, a small gardening business. In 2010, Sharp donated 5,000 flower bulbs to the town as part of the America in Bloom beautification contest.
“He’s been a great benefactor for the city, and an all-around nice person,” Mike Pugh, the city manager of Michigan City who worked with Sharp on the project, told The Daily. “I just can’t believe that he was arrested for that.”
Pugh said that Sharp specializes in hostas and day lilies, and was known for his generosity and kindness. “He’s just an interesting guy, very helpful.”
Police say that when Sharp was pulled over on I-94 in Washtenaw County, he had been swerving between lanes. “He was also following the vehicle in front of him too closely,” U.S. Attorney’s office spokeswoman Gina Bayala told The Daily.
Sharp refused the officer’s request to search the vehicle. As a result, a canine unit was called in and detected the presence of narcotics in the truck bed. Police then discovered the wrapped bricks of cocaine.
If convicted, he faces a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison.