Report: Radel nabbed in federal sting

Greg Nash

Freshman Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) was caught in a federal sting operation purchasing cocaine last month, according to a report in USA Today

Radel, 37, was charged Tuesday with possession of cocaine — a misdemeanor — and is scheduled to be arraigned in court Wednesday morning.

A task force involving several federal agencies first arrested a dealer, who then revealed one of his clients was a congressman, an unidentified senior Drug Enforcement Administration official told the newspaper. The dealer cooperated in a sting operation on Oct. 29, when Radel bought the drugs, according to the report. 

FBI agents later went to the congressman’s apartment and detained him, the report says, but Radel was not jailed.

After he was charged Tuesday, Radel said he has struggled with alcoholism and will seek treatment.

“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. As the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them," he said in a statement. 

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The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum of 180 days in prison and/or a fine of $1,000.

Radel said he wants to take responsibility for his actions. "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," Radel said.

"However, this unfortunate event does have a positive side. It offers me an opportunity to seek treatment and counseling. 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.”

“Please keep my family in your prayers.”

A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said lawmakers should be held to "the highest standards." 

"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," the spokesman said.

Radel was first elected to Congress in 2012 to represent a Southwest Florida district spanning Fort Myers, Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs and Cape Coral. He won the Republican district with 63 percent of the vote and has been a prominent face of the party, making multiple media appearances and frequently using social media.

He serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 

Before his election, he worked as a TV news anchor and reporter. He is married to a Florida TV news anchor, and they have one son, who was born in 2011.

Radel did not cast any votes in the House this week. 

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