The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

November 21, 2013

Radel pleads guilty to cocaine charge, takes leave

CAPE CORAL, Fla. (AP) — Florida Republican Rep. Henry "Trey" Radel, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession and received a year's probation, is taking a leave of absence from Congress and donating his salary to charity.

Radel made the announcement Wednesday at a crowded news conference in Florida.

"I'm not going to sit here and make any excuses for what I've done," he said. "I have let down our country. I've let down our constituents. I've let down my family, including my wife. And even though he doesn't know it, I've let down my 2-year-old son."

He said he takes responsibility for what he did, adding, "I want to be a better man."

At a court hearing earlier Wednesday in Washington, Radel told a judge, "I've hit a bottom where I realize I need help" in acknowledging that he purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover police officer.

As part of a plea agreement Radel admitted he agreed to buy the cocaine for $250 in a Washington neighborhood on Oct. 29. After the undercover officer gave Radel the drugs federal agents confronted him, court documents show. Radel agreed to talk with the agents and invited them to his apartment, where he also retrieved a vial of cocaine he had in the home, the documents said.

At his news conference in Florida, Radel said he has been struggling with alcoholism and substance abuse "off and on for years." He said he will enter an in-patient treatment program and said he was confident he could overcome his disease.

His office said the leave of absence takes effect immediately and said the congressman had filed the necessary papers with the House clerk. He gave no indication he was going to resign.

Radel had said in court earlier that he wants to "continue serving this country."

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