US congressman guilty of cocaine possession

2013-11-20 21:57
Radel has been charged with misdemeanour cocaine possession in Washington. (J Scott Applewhite, AP/File)

Radel has been charged with misdemeanour cocaine possession in Washington. (J Scott Applewhite, AP/File)

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Washington - First-term US congressman Trey Radel pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges of cocaine possession and was sentenced to one year of supervised probation.

The Florida Republican, 37, was arraigned in Washington DC Superior Court on the misdemeanour charge of possession of a controlled substance.

According to court documents, Radel is subject to one year of probation with "minimal supervision," and is ordered to undergo treatment for his condition.

He had faced a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail.

But with the more lenient sentencing, Radel may opt to stay in his congressional post. Members of the House of Representatives are elected to two-year terms, and the next election is November 2014.

A staffer answered the phone at Radel's congressional office, but an aide did not return a request for comment.

Radel was arrested as part of a federal investigation into a drug ring based in the nation's capital, according to WJLA TV.

The congressman was allegedly caught buying drugs on 29 October in a sting operation, but the arrest was not publicised until Tuesday when the charges were filed.

Radel issued a statement on Tuesday apologising to his family and his constituents of Southwest Florida.

"I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice," he said.

"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."

Radel is a former TV reporter, radio host and newspaper owner. He was elected to Congress in 2012, with support from the conservative Tea Party movement.

On Tuesday Speaker John Boehner's office said the matter was "between Representative Radel, his family, and his constituents."

There was no word on Wednesday on whether House leadership would welcome Radel's continued membership in Congress.

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