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Florida Rep. Trey Radel arrested on cocaine charges

WASHINGTON — Republican U.S. Rep. Trey Radel of Fort Myers is due to be arraigned Wednesday morning on cocaine possession charges.

A Washington, D.C., court document says that on Oct. 29, Radel "did unlawfully, knowingly, and intentionally possess a quantity of cocaine, a controlled substance."

The misdemeanor drug charge carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and or a fine of $1,000.

A Drug Enforcement Administration official said Radel, 37, was arrested after buying cocaine from an undercover law enforcement officer.

The 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 previously arrested as part of a separate drug investigation led by a federal task force.

In a statement Radel expressed regret for letting down his family and the people of Southwest Florida but did not indicate he intends to step down.

"I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice," Radel said. "As the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them."

Radel, a former TV anchor whose lawful name is Henry Jude Radel III, was elected in 2012 to the seat Connie Mack IV had occupied before mounting an unsuccessful challenge to Sen. Bill Nelson.

Radel cut an interesting profile in Washington, assembling a conservative voting record while also saying his party needed to appeal to a broader base. He recently co-sponsored the Justice Safety Valve Act, which would address mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines and give leniency to non-violent drug offenders.

But mostly he became known to reporters for his constant use of Twitter. Radel seemed to document just about everything, including his love of hip-hop music. On plane rides back to Fort Myers, he would tweet photographs of Sky Mall magazine and provide commentary.

He continued to use Twitter on the day he was arrested, as if nothing happened. "Had some fun last few wks," he wrote in one post. "Check out #treydome for look at tour of our Capitol. And for fun- #treyonplane Reviewed hilarious SkyMall mag!"

Radel missed votes this week.

"In facing this charge, I realize the disappointment my family, friends and constituents must feel," his statement read. "Believe me, I am disappointed in myself, and I stand ready to face the consequences of my actions."

"However, this unfortunate event does have a positive side. It offers me an opportunity to seek treatment and counseling. I know I have a problem and will do whatever is necessary to overcome it, hopefully setting an example for others struggling with this disease."

"Please keep my family in your prayers."

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said, "Members of Congress should be held to the highest standards, and the alleged crime will be handled by the courts. Beyond that, this is between Rep. Radel, his family, and his constituents."

Former U.S. Rep. Mack issued this statement:

"This is undoubtedly a very difficult time for Trey and his family and I'm sure all of us in Southwest Florida are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers. It is important that we all appreciate the very personal nature of Trey's situation and understand that it is premature to respond to or consider political questions at this time."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Florida Rep. Trey Radel arrested on cocaine charges 11/19/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 10:05am]

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