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GOP congressman Trey Radel pleads guilty to cocaine possession

Florida Republican Rep. Trey Radel pleaded guilty to cocaine possession in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Trey Radel arrives for a joint Senate and House intelligence briefing, in Washington, Sept. 3, 2013.
Rep. Trey Radel arrives for a joint Senate and House intelligence briefing, in Washington, Sept. 3, 2013.

Updated 4:08 p.m. 

Florida Congressman Trey Radel pleaded guilty Wednesday on a charge of cocaine possession and was sentenced to a year of probation.

"I hit a bottom, and I realize I need help," said Radel, apologizing in court.

According to a House Ethics Committee report, Radel appears to be the only sitting congressman to be arrested and convicted of cocaine use while in office. 

The freshman Republican was charged with misdemeanor possession of cocaine in D.C. Superior Court on Tuesday after being arrested last month.

The newly minted congressman voted against relief aid for Hurricane Sandy victims, supported defunding the Affordable Care Act and also voted to cut the food stamp program. But here's one thing Radel does support: In April, he co-sponsored legislation to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug offenses.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Radel said he suffers from alcoholism, which "led to an extremely irresponsible choice."

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

A self-described "hip-hop conservative," the newly minted congressman was the subject of a profile on MSNBC's All In during a segment titled, "These are the people who are running the country." In that profile, viewers learned that Radel has identified a hidden conservative message in Public Enemy's Fight the Power and that he once owned a company that registered lewd web addresses.

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

The 37-year-old formerly worked as a journalist, TV anchor and radio talk-show host. A new face to politics, Radel won his House seat for Florida's 19th district last November with support from the tea party. The seat was left open by Republican Connie Mack when he made an unsuccessful bid for the Senate.