Leo Sharp is a hero of World War II, a member of the “Greatest Generation” that is quickly fading away. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the nation’s fourth-highest honor, for his valor fighting in Italy during WWII.
But Leo Sharp is also a convicted felon and is due to appear in court on May 7, the very day he celebrates his 90th birthday, when he will be facing a sentencing hearing that could see him put away for what remains of his life.
His lawyer says he shouldn’t go to prison at all. A home confinement would be more than enough punishment for the elderly grandpa who, the lawyer says, suffers from symptoms of dementia.
So what did Leo Sharp do that has put him in this unfortunate position? In 2011, the Michigan City, Indiana, man and decorated WWII veteran was stopped on Interstate 94 with about 200 pounds of cocaine in his vehicle.
And that wasn’t the first, or only time that Leo Sharp ran drugs. In fact, the WWII hero transported about 1,400 pounds of cocaine and marijuana from Arizona across the country, in a criminal career that dates back to 2000, according to prosecutors in Detroit, where Sharp faces his sentencing hearing on his 90th birthday.
“Mr. Sharp is dreadfully sorry,” said his attorney, Darryl Goldberg.
Goldberg filed a memo with the court saying that Sharp’s drug-running activities — the dealers who employed him nicknamed him “the old man,” in phone conversations recorded by investigators — were the one lapse from “a law abiding life.”
He says that Sharp fell into the drug trade at a time of financial hardship, and then was blackmailed and coerced into continuing to act as long-distance drug mule for the next decade.
“He is a colorful, self-made, charitable man who has worked hard throughout this entire admirable, extraordinary, and long life,” wrote Goldberg in the memo.
Prosecutors are expected to ask for a five-year sentence for the WWII hero.