WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Fred D. Thompson says he was unaware one of his closest advisers was a convicted drug dealer.
Philip Martin, 49, a wealthy developer from Alabama, is co-chairman of Thompson's campaign.
Martin pleaded guilty to selling 11 pounds of marijuana in 1979 and no contest in 1983 to charges of cocaine trafficking and conspiracy, the Washington Post reported Sunday. He served no jail time for the offenses, according to public records.
Thompson said he did not learn of Martin's criminal background until Saturday, Karen Hanretty, Thompson's deputy communications director, told the Post.
Martin, who has been friends with Thompson since the early 1990s, has allowed Thompson such frequent use of his Citation jet that campaign aides referred to Martin as the head of "Thompson's Airforce," the Post reported.
Martin went on to make a fortune in real estate and business ventures in Tennessee. Martin, who now lives in Alabama, could not be reached for comment.