US & Canada

Republican congressman Trey Radel admits cocaine charge

Congressman Trey Radel is seen on Capitol Hill on 3 September 2013
Congressman Trey Radel dropped the cocaine as officers swooped

A Republican congressman has been sentenced to one year's probation after pleading guilty to cocaine possession.

First-term Florida Representative Trey Radel, 37, learned his fate at a Washington DC court.

The father of one said he was "disappointed" with himself. He had faced a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 (£620) fine.

Radel admitted purchasing 3.5g (0.12oz) of the drug from an undercover agent on 29 October.

Federal officials told Radel he would face criminal charges the same evening.

The charges were made public on Tuesday.

'Extremely irresponsible'

The freshman politician represents several of Florida's Gulf Coast communities, and worked as a radio host before being elected to Congress in 2012.

Following news of the charges against him, Radel said he had struggled with alcoholism, blaming this for leading him to "an extremely irresponsible choice".

"I realise the disappointment my family, friends and constituents must feel," he wrote in a statement.

"I am disappointed in myself, and I stand ready to face the consequences of my actions."

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

Radel bought the illegal drug outside an unidentified restaurant in Dupont Circle, an upmarket area of Washington DC.

He dropped the cocaine as officers swooped once the transaction was made.

Radel will face a preliminary investigation by the House ethics committee, which is required anytime a sitting legislator is charged with a crime, according to the Washington Post.

The Florida representative co-sponsored a bill in September to give judges flexibility in mandatory minimum sentences on drug charges.

The same month he voted for a Republican-led bill that significantly cut food assistance for poor Americans, and allowed applicants for such aid to be required to undergo drug tests.