Detroit judge releases dying drug courier, 91, from prison early

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 01, 2015 7:20 PM

(Reuters) - A 91-year-old man sentenced in Detroit to three years in federal prison after admitting to being a drug mule has been released early because he is dying, according to U.S. District Court records unsealed on Wednesday.

Leo Sharp, an Indiana resident, admitted to serving as a cocaine courier for a Mexican drug cartel and was sentenced in May 2014 to 36 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Judge Nancy Edmunds granted Sharp's release in June in an order that said he was terminally ill and had a life expectancy of six to nine months. Federal prison records show Sharp was released on June 25.

"The director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons contends, and this court agrees, that the defendant's terminal medical condition and limited life expectancy constitute extraordinary and compelling reasons warranting the requested reduction," Edmunds wrote in the order.

Sharp, a decorated World War Two combat veteran, was pulled over by police in October 2011 for erratic driving on an interstate highway in Michigan with what turned out to be 104 bricks of cocaine in his truck, about 229 pounds.

Prosecutors had said Sharp hauled 1,250 kilograms (2,755 pounds) of cocaine into Michigan from the southwest United States on a half-dozen trips from February 2010 until his arrest, earning $1,000 per kilogram for drugs he transported.

He also hauled duffel bags stuffed with cash back to the southwest border for the criminal organization that was part of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, prosecutors said.

Sharp pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute cocaine in an agreement with prosecutors that called for a recommendation for a prison sentence of five years.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Sandra Maler)