Ravenel released from treatment center; trial held until November

COLUMBIA -- Former state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel has been released from a New Mexico treatment center, one of his attorneys said, and a judge Monday postponed his federal drug trial until November.

The multimillionaire Charleston developer checked into the Life Healing Center in Sante Fe, N.M., after his last court appearance in Columbia on July 24 on a charge of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine.

Ravenel, 45, was released "within the last several days" and has returned to Charleston, said Charleston attorney Gedney Howe, one of his lawyers, when contacted Monday.

"He is remorseful but upbeat," Howe said about Ravenel's mood.

Efforts Monday to reach Ravenel were unsuccessful. Howe said his client plans to return to his private-sector job as a developer.

"He had a successful business life before," Howe said, "and he wants to get into that with full force."

Ravenel, who is free on a $100,000 unsecured bond, is participating in a 90-day "after-care" program under the guidance of a Charleston psychiatrist, who also coordinated Ravenel's inpatient treatment programs, Howe said.

"The main thing is, you're not an inpatient," Howe said about the after-care program. "You're sort of transitioning back into your life but under closely supervised conditions."

As part of his bail conditions, Ravenel is supposed to report regularly to a federal probation officer and will be subject to random drug testing.

'Step-down' program

The Life Healing Center describes itself on its Web site as a treatment facility for "chemical dependency, eating disorders, love/sex addiction, co-dependency, mood disorders and relapse prevention." The center's rates are not disclosed.

Howe described the New Mexico facility as a "step-down" program for "substance abuse" problems, though he declined to discuss specifics. Ravenel's father, former congressman and state Sen. Arthur Ravenel, earlier said his son has a drug problem.

"It's a little more life-skills oriented," Howe said about the Life Healing Center.

Previously, Thomas Ravenel spent a month at Sierra Tucson in Tucson, Ariz., which Howe described as an "intensive," inpatient treatment center. The average cost for a patient ranges from $45,180 to $65,955, according to its Web site.

It has hosted Hollywood personalities, including Whitney Houston, Rob Lowe, Julie Andrews and Michael Douglas.

Ravenel entered the facility June 22, three days after he was indicted by a federal grand jury.

Ravenel's participation in several inpatient facilities and an after-care program is typical for people with drug problems, said Jimmy Mount, spokesman for the state Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services.

"It's very individualized," Mount said. "What he's doing may be exactly right for him."

An after-care program might include outpatient therapy and life-skills training, he said.

Ravenel is charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute less than 500 grams, or about a pound, of cocaine. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.

If convicted, though, Ravenel, who has no prior record, likely would face a sentence ranging from six months of house arrest with probation up to about four years in prison, according to an analysis last month by The State of federal sentencing guidelines.

Ravenel is accused of possessing an unspecified amount of cocaine and giving it to others, though not selling it.

His co-defendant, Michael Levon Miller, 25, of Mount Pleasant, faces the same federal charge; authorities said he sold an unspecified amount of cocaine to Ravenel.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Miller remained Monday in the Charleston County Detention Center on a state cocaine trafficking charge.

Jury selection in their federal trial originally had been scheduled for Sept. 5, but was pushed back until Nov. 8 because prosecutors and the defendants are "continuing to review all the discovery in this case and need more time," according to an order issued Monday by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Joe Anderson.

Defendants in federal cases routinely ask for continuances.