By Michael A. Memoli
10:40 AM EST, November 20, 2013
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of drug possession after being caught in a "buy and bust" sting and was sentenced to one year's probation.
Radel, a first-term congressman, came to the attention of the FBI and DEA this fall during an investigation of cocaine trafficking in the Washington area, according to prosecutors.
On Oct. 29, Radel agreed to buy approximately 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover officer at a restaurant in the Dupont Circle area of Washington, authorities said. After handing over payment of $260 to the officer outside the restaurant, federal agents approached the congressman, who dropped the drugs to the ground.
Radel was not arrested. He agreed to speak with agents at his apartment, and voluntarily admitted he purchased the cocaine, prosecutors said. He also turned over additional quantities he had at his apartment.
The congressman was not formally charged until Tuesday for drug possession, which carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in prison or a $1,000 fine. But Radel, as a first-time offender, was able to ask the court to defer sentencing and place him on probation. If the probation is successfully completed, the court could dismiss the case without any finding of guilt.
Radel, 37, said in a statement Tuesday that a struggle with alcoholism “led to an extremely irresponsible choice” and that he would seek counseling. He also said he stood “ready to face the consequences of my actions.”
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