US congressman in cocaine scandal resigns: Spokesman

27 January 2014 - 21:07 By Sapa-AFP
Florida Congressman Henry “Trey” Radel
Florida Congressman Henry “Trey” Radel

Trey Radel, the US congressman who pleaded guilty to cocaine possession last year, is resigning on Monday, his office said.

The first-term Republican representing southern Florida was to announce his resignation in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, a Radel spokesman told AFP.

Radel, 37, was arrested in October after he was caught purchasing 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover police officer outside a Washington restaurant.

He faced a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail, but instead was sentenced to one year of supervisory probation.

Radel spent nearly a month at a rehabilitation facility. After his leave of absence he had said he aimed to continuing serving in the House of Representatives.

Radel, a former radio talk show host and newspaper owner, came under pressure from fellow Republicans, including Florida Governor Rick Scott, to step down, but for a few months he stood firm.

"Sometimes in life you need a wakeup call. This is my wakeup call," he said in November before undergoing rehabilitation.

Radel's term ends in January 2015, and he would have stood for re-election this November.

His departure triggers a scramble for the open seat, with speculation that Radel's predecessor, Connie Mack, who held the position before an unsuccessful run for the US Senate, might seek to reclaim the seat.