Randy Lanier, who was the rookie of the year in the 1986 Indianapolis 500, was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole for his part in a multimillion-dollar drug-smuggling operation.
"You have caused a lot of heartache and ruined a lot of lives in this country," U.S. District Judge James Foreman told Lanier in the courtroom in Benton, Ill.
Foreman then sentenced Lanier, 34, on charges that he had helped spearhead a drug operation that brought more than 600,000 pounds of marijuana into the United States from Colombia.
Lanier's attorney, Robert Ritchie, called the sentence unjust and said he would file an appeal within 10 days.
A federal jury had convicted Lanier, of Davie, Fla., and two co-defendants Oct. 4 on charges of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and conspiring to distribute more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana between 1982 and 1986. A fourth defendant was found guilty on the distribution charges.
In addition to the life sentence, Lanier was sentenced to the maximum 40 years on the distribution charge and to 5 years on a third charge of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service.