Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., the Tea Party-backed "hip-hop conservative" who pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine on Wednesday, announced that he will take a leave of absence from Congress and donate his salary for that period to charity.
Radel, 37, made the announcement Wednesday night, CNN reports. During the press conference, Radel apologized to residents of his home state of Florida and blamed his cocaine usage on his family’s history of alcoholism and substance abuse.
“I’m not going to sit here and make an excuse for what I’ve done,” Radel said. “I’ve let down our country, I’ve let down our constituents, I’ve let down my family.”
Radel also told reporters that he “grew up with a mom who struggled with alcoholism.”
“I don’t want my son to struggle with that,” he continued.
Earlier on Wednesday, Radel pleaded guilty to the possession of cocaine at a Washington, D.C., court hearing and was sentenced to one year of probation and a stint in rehab. If Radel successfully completes probation, the conviction will be cleared from his record. The deal was part of a plea bargain with federal prosecutors. Radel potentially faced up to 180 days jail time and a fine of $1,000.
According to court documents made public on Tuesday night, Radel was caught in a federal sting operation. After purchasing cocaine from an undercover agent in D.C.’s DuPont Circle neighborhood, Radel was surrounded by federal agents. Later, federal agents visited Radel in his home, where they also found cocaine. The agents then informed Radel that he would be facing federal charges for his cocaine possession.
CNN's Evan Perez reports that the DEA sting operation was not out to target cocaine buyers, but high-level suppliers and dealers. Once the agents learned that a congressman was a buyer, however, they could not ignore the fact and chose to go after him.