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November 21, 2013

Fla's 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 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.”

A DEA official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details of the case in his own name said Radel was identified to authorities as a cocaine buyer by his suspected dealer. The dealer had been arrested previously as part of a separate drug investigation led by a federal task force.

Court documents show that when Radel bought the cocaine on Oct. 29 he met with the undercover officer and an acquaintance with whom he had previously used cocaine. The documents said that Radel purchased cocaine on several previous occasions.

Radel’s lawyer, David Schertler, said in court that his client had already entered outpatient treatment in Washington and would also seek treatment in Florida. He said his client sees the charge as an opportunity to seek help for a problem.

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