Elders’ Son Sentenced to 10 Years on Drug Charge

<i> Associated Press</i>

A judge sentenced a son of U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders on Monday to 10 years in prison for selling one-eighth of an ounce of cocaine to an undercover police officer.

As Kevin Elders was led off to jail, the surgeon general fought back tears, while his father, Oliver, slammed his hands into a steel door in frustration.

Kevin Elders, 28, had claimed entrapment, saying the informant who set up the July 29, 1993, deal had threatened to expose his drug habit and embarrass his mother at her confirmation hearing.

The sale of the $275 worth of cocaine was Elders’ first offense, but Circuit Judge John Plegge said the law required him to impose the minimum 10-year sentence. Elders could have been sentenced to life.


Elders’ attorney, P. A. (Les) Hollingsworth, said he would appeal.

Kevin Elders has acknowledged having a decade-long drug problem, including a three-year cocaine addiction.

In a recent letter to Plegge, Joycelyn Elders asked for leniency to “give our son and our family a second chance,” the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said Monday.

Mrs. Elders said when her son needed her most she was too busy with politics. “As I sat there watching my son, I thought of how much and how long he had suffered because at the time of his greatest need, we had not been able to communicate as a family,” she wrote. “I was totally immersed in trying to get through a very difficult Senate confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C.”


Mrs. Elders was nominated for surgeon general on July 1, 1993, six months after President Clinton first announced his intention to pick her. She won Senate confirmation Sept. 7, 1993.

Kevin Elders was arrested Dec. 19, 1993, five months after the drug sale, on a warrant issued a week after his mother suggested at a National Press Club luncheon that the government study legalization of drugs as a possible means of reducing the nation’s crime rate.

Mrs. Elders said her son has undergone drug rehabilitation and has successfully managed rental property the family owns.