Rep Radel pleads guilty to cocaine charge

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Florida Republican Rep. Henry “Trey” Radel pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession and was sentenced to a year’s probation.


“I’ve hit a bottom where I realize I need help,” Radel told a judge in acknowledging that he purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover police officer.

As part of a plea agreement Radel acknowledged he agreed to buy the cocaine for $250 in a Washington, D.C., neighborhood on Oct. 29. After the undercover officer gave Radel the drugs federal agents confronted him, court documents show. Radel agreed to talk with the agents and invited them to his apartment, where he also retrieved a vial of cocaine he had in the home, the documents said.

The charges against Radel were made public Tuesday, and Radel said in a statement then that he struggles with alcoholism and will seek treatment and counseling. Radel made no mention of his political future and did not answer reporters’ questions outside of court about whether he would stay in office.

“I want to come out of this stronger,” Radel said in court, later adding that he wants to “continue serving this country.”

Radel appears to be the first sitting member of Congress charged with a drug offense since former Rep. Frederick Richmond, D-N.Y., was convicted in 1982 on charges of tax evasion and drug possession.

Radel was elected in 2012 to represent Florida’s 19th Congressional District, which includes the Gulf Coast communities of Fort Myers and Naples. He was a radio host before becoming a congressman. He identifies himself on his Twitter profile as a “Hip Hop conservative” and “lover of #liberty,” and his Twitter account has remained active in the past few weeks, including on the day of the bust.

Among the bills he co-sponsored during his freshman term is legislation to amend the country’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws.

If Radel had been arrested in Florida with the same amount of cocaine it would be a third-degree felony punishable by five years in prison under state law.

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