One month after he voted against raising the debt limit—a move that helped shut down the government for 16 days—Congressman Trey Radel met with two people at a Dupont Circle restaurant and chatted about cocaine. Radel invited the pair to return to his apartment to do cocaine (they declined) and agreed to purchase 3.5 grams of cocaine for $250 dollars
The seller turned out to be an undercover cop, and after Radel exchanged cash for cocaine, he was approached by federal agents. He’d been caught in a sting.
Radel was a regular cocaine user and buyer, though occasionally he shared it with others, according to court documents. The FBI and DEA agents who orchestrated the sting had obtained Radel's name during a larger cocaine trafficking investigation.
Two weeks later, Radel was charged with possession of cocaine. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year of probation. According to the House Ethics Committee, Radel appears to be the only sitting congressman to be convicted of cocaine use, NBC News reports.
"Today's guilty plea emerges from a broader narcotics investigation that brought to light information that a sitting member of Congress was routinely using and buying cocaine. Once this information was confirmed, law enforcement could not ignore this illegal conduct," U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said in a statement.
Radel, 37, apologized Tuesday in a statement.
“I'm profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida. I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice,” he said.
"I'm deeply disappointed in Congressman Radel's choices,” Florida’s Republican Party chairman Lenny Curry said. “I am glad that he is seeking help."
Radel was a prolific user of social media, Twitter and Vine. There were a half dozen tweets on the day of his arrest, Oct. 29, including this one.
Radel was elected last fall with tea-party backing. He describes himself as a “hip-hop conservative,” and was profiled by All In with Chris Hayes, with the show reporting that Radel sees a hidden conservative message in Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.”
House Speaker john Boehner's office weighed in with a brief statement on Tuesday. “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,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.