Ravenel pleads guilty to cocaine charge

Pasquale Pellicoro
Pasquale Pellicoro

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Former state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel admitted Thursday in court to using cocaine since 2005, buying it for parties and giving the drug to friends.

Ravenel pleaded guilty to a federal cocaine charge Thursday morning.

Ravenel admitted in court that he engaged in reckless behavior, using cocaine as frequently as every couple of weeks, but he said it was not an addiction, more the result of what he referred to as "childhood issues."

Ravenel arrived with family members and his legal team a couple of minutes before he was due in the courthouse for the first of two hearings.

It was at the second hearing that the 45-year-old former state Treasurer outlined his usage of the drug - saying it went on for about two years and that he used it himself and would sometimes share it with friends.

The government says that sharing happened at parties at Ravenel's home and sometimes elsewhere.

The government says Ravenel did not sell cocaine.

Ravenel won't be sentenced yet - that will happen later.

After the hearing he spoke briefly to the media.

"I just want everybody to know from the start I've accepted responsibility. I'm cooperating with the government, and I'm looking very forward to putting this sad chapter behind me and moving forward. And again, I'm very remorseful for my behavior. And also I want to thank so many Americans, so many South Carolinians out there who have sent notes and cards of encouragement, sent them to me and my family, and I want to thank them. And with that, thank you for being here," said Ravenel.

He declined further comment, and did not answer questions about his reference in court to having childhood issues.

But later, through one of his attorneys, Ravenel issued a statement. In that statement, Ravenel says the issues he'd been referring to "...are the ones that arose when my parents divorced 35 years ago, when I was just 10 years old. A divorce is always hard on young children and, through counseling, I am learning that I am no exception to that rule."

Ravenel will be sentenced later after completion of a pre-sentence report by federal probation agents.

A source close to the investigation says Ravenel's maximum possible prison sentence is about 18-20 months. The government could move for reduction of the sentence based on Ravenel's cooperation in an ongoing drug investigation in the Charleston area.

Meanwhile, there is still no specific information on the whereabouts of one of Ravenel's two co-defendants.

Pasquale Pellicoro failed to show for a hearing Wednesday and could be out of the country.

Pellicoro told The Post and Courier by cell phone that he is in Switzerland, according to a post on their website.

Pellicoro is believed to be one of the people who supplied cocaine to Ravenel. 25-year-old Michael Miller is the other suspect.

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