POSTED: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 12:00pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 12:04pm
CNN Staff — U.S. Rep. Trey Radel is due in D.C. superior court Wednesday morning, charged with misdemeanor cocaine possession after allegedly buying a small amount of the drug in an October sting, according to court documents and law enforcement officials.
The 37-year-old Florida Republican was charged after he allegedly made the purchase in Washington on October 29, in a sting that stemmed from a broader FBI/Drug Enforcement Administration investigation of a drug trafficking organization in the nation's capital, law enforcement officials told CNN on condition of anonymity.
The targets of the investigation are dealers and high-level people in the organization, not buyers and users.
But a dealer who was arrested last month told federal agents that one of his customers was a congressman, a law enforcement official said.
So, deciding they couldn't turn away from that, agents set up the sting, law enforcement officials said.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office filing the charges said Tuesday that a conviction would come with a maximum 180-day imprisonment or a $1,000 fine, or both.
"I'm profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida," Radel said in a statement released by his office. "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."
"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."
Radel, serving his first term in Congress after winning office last November, is a former journalist and TV news anchor.
In the sting, Radel bought a small amount of cocaine at Washington's Dupont Circle after meeting with someone who was, unbeknownst to Radel, an undercover agent, a law enforcement official said.
Radel was allowed to walk away, though agents went to his apartment later that night and told him he would be charged, the official said.
"Members of Congress should be held to the highest standards, and the alleged crime will be handled by the courts," a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said in a prepared statement. "Beyond that, this is between Rep. Radel, his family, and his constituents."