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Radel Pleads Guilty, Wants to Stay in Office

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Radel leaves the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possession of cocaine.

Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of cocaine on Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court and promised to seek treatment for his addiction so he can “continue serving this country.”

With his hands clasped tightly in front of his black suit, the Florida Republican somberly told Judge Robert S. Tignor that, “in life I hit a bottom where I realize I need help.”

Radel apologized for letting down his constituents, his country, his wife and his 2-year-old son “who doesn’t know it yet.”

Radel told the judge he has “aggressively pursued” treatment for his addiction. The congressman is currently enrolled in an outpatient recovery program in Washington, D.C., and plans to find an inpatient program back home in Naples, Fla.

His progress will be monitored as part of the one-year probation sentence he received from the judge. He also received a $250 fine.

Radel’s plea stems from an Oct. 29 charge that he “did unlawfully, knowingly, and intentionally possess a quantity of cocaine.”

The charge stayed out of the headlines and was unknown to Capitol Hill for three weeks, until the congressman’s name appeared on the D.C. Superior Court docket this week.

Had the matter gone to trial, prosecutors would have built their case on facts from a fall 2013 probe involving multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration officers.

Through confidential sources and investigators, police learned that Radel had on several occasions purchased cocaine for personal use, and also on some occasions shared with others.

On Oct. 29, the 37-year-old congressman met an acquaintance, with whom he’d previously used cocaine, for dinner at a Dupont Circle restaurant. His pal was accompanied by an undercover officer.

Over the course of the meal, Radel told the pair that he had some cocaine at his D.C. apartment and invited them back to use it with him. They declined, but the undercover officer said he had 3.5 grams of the drug that he would sell to Radel for $250.

After dinner, Radel handed over the cash outside the restaurant, then followed the men to the undercover officer’s car. Inside the car, he was handed a package. When he stepped out of the vehicle, federal agents were waiting. They approached Radel, who dropped the package on the street.

The exchange took place around 10 p.m.

When the judge asked on Wednesday, a somber-faced Radel confirmed that at the time he believed he was purchasing “a drug.”

“Cocaine,” he added after a pause.

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