CAPE CORAL, Fla. (AP) - Florida Republican Rep. Henry "Trey" Radel said Wednesday he was taking a leave of absence from Congress and donating his salary to charity after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession and receiving a sentence of a year's probation.
Radel made the announcement at a news conference where he acknowledged that he had let down his country, his family and southwest Florida residents.
He said he takes responsibility for what he did, adding, "I want to be a better man."
"I've hit a bottom where I realize I need help," Radel told a judge earlier Wednesday in Washington in acknowledging that he purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover police officer.
As part of a plea agreement Radel acknowledged he agreed to buy the cocaine for $250 in a Washington neighborhood on Oct. 29. After the undercover officer gave Radel the drugs federal agents confronted him, court documents show. Radel agreed to talk with the agents and invited them to his apartment, where he also retrieved a vial of cocaine he had in the home, the documents said.
At his news conference in Florida late Thursday night, Radel said he has been struggling with alcoholism and substance abuse "off and on for years." He said he will enter an in-patient treatment program and that he was confident he could overcome his disease.
Radel said that his leave of absence takes effect immediately and that he had filed the necessary papers with the House clerk. In the meantime, he said constituent services would continue. He gave no indication he was going to resign.
"I want to come out of this stronger," Radel said in court, later adding that he wants to "continue serving this country."