COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina Treasurer Thomas Ravenel resigned from office Tuesday, about a month after he was indicted on a federal cocaine charge.
The 44-year-old Ravenel appeared in court for the first time to face the charge of possession with intent to distribute less than 500 grams of cocaine. His attorneys entered a not guilty plea earlier this month.
Prosecutors have said he shared cocaine with his friends and did not sell the drug.
Ravenel apologized to the state and to his family.
Ravenel said, "First I'd like to say I'm deeply disappointed in myself for - of the circumstances surrounding my presence here today due to the personal mistakes I've made in my life. Second most important, I want to offer a heartfelt apology to the state of South Carolina, to the people of South Carolina and to my family. I am deeply sorry. Now, in the best interest of our state I believe I must resign the position, Treasurer in the state of South Carolina, and I have so informed the governor that effective as of today, I do resign."
He returned to the state Sunday from a treatment program in Arizona. US Magistrate Joseph McCrorey says Ravenel can attend another treatment program in at the "Life Healing Center" in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The center specializes in treatment for clients who have struggled with chemical dependency programs or have unresolved issues in their lives.
Ravenel is to meet Wednesday in Charleston with probation officers.
His next court appearance is scheduled August 21st.
Ravenel remains free on a $100,000 unsecured bond. The conditions of his bond are that he cannot possess weapons, use illegal drugs, drink to excess and that he must submit to random drug testing.
Ravenel is next scheduled to appear in court August 21st. Jury selection in his trial is set for September 5th.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and a one million dollar fine if he is convicted.
One of Ravenel's attorneys says it's difficult to say whether the case will go to trial.
Ravenel was suspended by Governor Mark Sanford immediately after his indictment was announced June 19th. Columbia attorney Ken Wingate was appointed interim state treasurer. The General Assembly will select a permanent replacement.
South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson issued the following statement regarding Thomas Ravenel's resignation from office:
"Thomas Ravenel has taken personal responsibility for his actions and done what is appropriate in resigning his position as state treasurer. Thomas and his family will continue to be in our prayers."
South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler also released a statement:
"In light of the seriousness of this scandal, I'm glad to learn that Thomas Ravenel has resigned as state treasurer. Elected officials must not hold themselves above the law. South Carolina Democrats wish the best for Mr. Ravenel as he goes through the difficult process of rehabilitation."
Reported by Jack Kuenzie
Posted by Bryce Mursch