(DETROIT) - An 87-year-old Leo Sharp, of Michigan City, Ind. was arrested with 104 bricks of cocaine in his pickup truck and told a judge Monday that he was forced at "gunpoint" to carry the load.
(DETROIT) - An 87-year-old Leo Sharp, of Michigan City, Ind. Indiana arrested with 104 bricks of cocaine in his pickup truck and told a judge Monday that he was forced at "gunpoint" to carry the load.
During a boisterous appearance in court, Leo Sharp had trouble keeping quiet, even after he was warned that anything he said could be used against him. There were many grins and occasional laughter from lawyers, spectators and U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Randon.
Federal prosecutors wanted to keep Sharp locked up, but he was released on bond, three days after he was stopped for improper lane use while driving on Interstate 94 near Chelsea, 60 miles west of Detroit.
With the help of a drug-sniffing dog, state troopers discovered 104 brick-sized objects of cocaine Friday, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
"You're dealing with a man forced to do what I did by gunpoint," Sharp told the judge.
A criminal complaint signed by a DEA agent is thin on details, and there was no mention in court about Sharp's destination. The judge had to speak loudly after Sharp said he had lost some hearing during a war.
Sharp asked that he be allowed to get medicine that apparently had been seized by officers.
"I could have a stroke," he said.
At another point, Sharp said he probably could read better than anyone in the courtroom and that he's writing a book. He "absolutely" promised to return to court on Nov. 10. "You're the boss," Sharp told the judge, who ordered a mental-health evaluation.
"I'm sorry, sir, to be so troublesome," Sharp said.
Outside court, he told The Associated Press he grows lilies on a 46-acre Indiana farm.
"I love plants. It's a serious love -- except the crap that makes you high," Sharp said. "I'm innocent. You'll learn about it."
Defense attorney Ray Richards said he believes the amount of cocaine tops 200 pounds.
DEA spokesman Rich Isaacson said he couldn't discuss details of the investigation but said the role of an 87-year-old man was unusual.
"Drug trafficking groups use all kinds of measures to avoid detection by law enforcement. Using an older gentleman could be another strategy," he said.
Have a question or comment about a news story? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org