30 years ago, pioneering rapper Melle Mel warned “white lines . . .don’t do it.” If only hip hop conservative Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) had paid attention he might have avoided the embarrassing arrest for cocaine possession that landed him before a judge today when he was sentenced in a D.C. courtroom.
Radel, a first-term congressman from southwest Florida, pled guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was sentenced to one year of supervised probation and will pay a $250 fine. The Florida congressman told the court he had been seeking counseling in Washington DC and would return to his home state for inpatient treatment. Before sentencing, Radel said “I hit a bottom and I realize I need help.” In a statement released to the press yesterday, he said that he “struggles with the disease of alcoholism, ” making him the second politician in a month, after Toronto’s Mayor McCrack, Rob Ford, to blame alcohol for a drug problem.
The congressman declined to speak to assembled reporters after his guilty plea.
The Florida congressman had been caught up in a DEA operation that targeted drug dealers, not buyers. However, when federal agents heard that a congressman was buying cocaine, they followed the lead and ended up busting Radel.
According to the charging documents, Radel purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine (or an 8 ball) from an undercover police officer in a restaurant in Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood. The congressman and the undercover cop then went into the policeman’s car where Radel was handed the cocaine. Immediately thereafter, federal agents came up to Radel who dropped the cocaine in the street where it was immediately recovered. The congressman then invited the federal agents back to his apartment where he admitted that he had purchased cocaine and handed over a vial of the drug that he already had in his possession.
Radel is the first congressman to be convicted of drug possession since Rep. Fred Richmond (D-NY) pled guilty to marijuana possession as well as to tax evasion charges in 1982.