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November 20, 2013

Congressman pleads guilty and gets quick resolution to local DC cocaine charge

As reported in this Washington Post article, headlined "Rep. Trey Radel pleads guilty on charges of cocaine possession," a new member of Congress discovered how quick and efficient (and humane?) government in the form of the criminal justice system can sometime be.  Here are the notable details:

Freshman Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) pleaded guilty in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of possession of cocaine, after buying the illegal drug outside a restaurant in Dupont Circle late last month.

According to court documents, the first-term congressman “unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally possessed” a quantity of cocaine. Radel was charged Tuesday, following an indictment by a Superior Court grand jury.

Radel and a friend of his met an undercover agent at a restaurant in Dupont Circle at 10 p.m. on Oct. 29, prosecutors said in court. Radel asked the friend and the agent to go with him to his home. The agent declined. Radel then purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine, estimated to be worth $250, from the agent in his car.

After the transaction was made, officers stormed the vehicle, and Radel dropped the drugs. He allegedly invited the officers back to his apartment to discuss the incident. When officers went to the home, they found a vial containing cocaine.

Judge Robert S. Tignor sentenced Radel to one year on probation while he undergoes treatment in Florida. Radel said he is also seeking counseling in the District. Tignor said he took into account that this was Radel’s first offense. If Radel violates the probation, he will have to serve 180 days in jail. He also had to pay a $260 fee. His attorney had sought six months probation at the court hearing.

“Your honor, I apologize for what I’ve done,” Radel told the judge. “I hit a bottom and I realize I need help.”

“I am so sorry to be here,” he said. “I have let my constituents, my country and my family down. I want to come out of this stronger and I intend to do that, to be a better man, a better husband and continuing serving this country.”

If Radel completes probation, he won’t have a conviction on his record, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Radel, 37, was elected last November with 63 percent of the vote. He represents Florida’s 19th Congressional District, which includes Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs and Marco Island. In a statement issued after he was charged Tuesday, Radel expressed profound regret for his actions and said they stemmed in part from an addiction to alcohol. “I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice,” he said. “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 . . . I know I have a problem and will do whatever is necessary to overcome it.”

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), said the matter will be dealt with outside the halls of Congress. “Members of Congress should be held to the highest standards, and the alleged crime will be handled by the courts,” Steel said. “Beyond that, this is between Representative Radel, his family and his constituents.”

But Radel’s case will also be examined by the House Ethics Committee. House rules require the panel to launch a preliminary investigation any time a member is indicted or charged with criminal conduct.

Radel did not participate in House votes Monday evening. But he has been casting votes in recent weeks, including on the day of and the day after the alleged cocaine purchase. He recently co-sponsored a bipartisan bill to reform the nation’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug offenses.

November 20, 2013 at 11:40 AM | Permalink


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"He recently co-sponsored a bipartisan bill to reform the nation’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug offenses."

Ha! I'll bet he did. Nothing like a little self service!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 20, 2013 1:48:08 PM

I am assuming from the article that possession of cocaine is just a misdemeanor in D.C. Is it a misdemeanor anywhere else in the country? All of the states that I know of treat possession of anything other than "personal use" amounts of marijuana (whatever level that state defines the threshhold at) as a felony.

Posted by: tmm | Nov 20, 2013 4:33:02 PM

Let us be fair with the guy. He is not as fat as the Mayor of Toronto or as free with the women as the Weener guy. All he did was some cocaine. It was not heroin. However, if he smokes, he will be out in the corridor with Boehner stinking the place up and subjecting others to second hand smoke. Pee Party Pot, Pee Party Cold, Pee Partiers smoking pot nine days old.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Nov 20, 2013 7:51:41 PM

Yes, D.C. Code 48-904.01(d) makes all possession offenses (except PCP) misdemeanors. Subsection (e) establishes the diversion program for first-time offenders that it appears Radel qualified for.

Posted by: Jay | Nov 20, 2013 8:18:13 PM

Well, I understand he voted for the bill to make it possible for states to drug test welfare recipients.

Posted by: beth | Nov 20, 2013 10:52:21 PM

beth, and that's a problem, why? Do you really think that debt that my children are going to have to pay should finance people's drug habits?

Posted by: federalist | Nov 20, 2013 11:10:22 PM

In my county, everyone I know of who's been in possession of an eighth of an ounce of material containing cocaine has been prosecuted for the 20-year felony of possession-with-intent-to-deliver, for which diversion is unavailable. The theory was that such an amount was too much for personal use. The vast majority were convicted. For many years it carried a mandatory prison sentence, and also required consecutive sentencing, where there was another conviction. It also appears to me that the guy who set him up was working off cases the police could have made against him. Usually in my county that has been at the rate of making two new cases, for each one the police agree not to pursue.

Posted by: Greg Jones | Nov 21, 2013 11:03:55 AM

The article I read said it was food stamps.


I don't begrudge him the diversion chance. Does he support that for other jurisdictions? He has spoken about his addiction. I have no idea of his personal situation. It is just that not everyone who buys and uses the stuff is some desperate addict. His actions here was pretty reckless and if he needs help, hope he obtains it. It was a nice touch for him to donate his salary during his leave of absence to charity. Still, thought he might resign.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 21, 2013 11:13:58 AM

The debt that our children will pay is for contracts for drug testing companies, law enforcement, prosecution, prisons, multiple government employees and agencies. Perhaps it's worth it for the economic stimulus and government job creation that it provides. I think that's the thing that is being questioned.

Posted by: beth | Nov 21, 2013 1:36:24 PM

To jump in with Beth, all regulations should have pilot testing with proof efficacy, doing their claim, and safety, without unintended cosequences. Welfare tedting for drugs likely has alow yield.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 22, 2013 1:30:33 PM

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