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Ravenel will enter guilty plea

COLUMBIA -- Former state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel likely would receive a sentence ranging from only probation to no more than two years in prison on his federal cocaine charge, based on terms of a plea agreement filed Friday.

The multimillionaire Charles- ton developer said that at a hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in Columbia, he would plead guilty to the charge of conspiracy to possess and distribute less than 500 grams of cocaine. He is free on a $100,000 unsecured bond.

"As I have from the very beginning, I am accepting full responsibility for my actions," Ravenel said in a prepared statement Friday afternoon. "I am sorry for the embarrassment and hurt that I have caused my family, and I appreciate the strong support they have given to me.

"I also apologize to the people of South Carolina, and I look forward to beginning to put this matter behind all of us."

Ravenel, 45, said he would "continue to cooperate with law enforcement and the United States attorney, as I have done since they first approached me."

He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, though his sentence would be far lighter under federal sentencing guidelines. He will be sentenced later by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Joe Anderson.

The 10-page plea agreement provides no details of the alleged crime, and prosecutors have been tight-lipped about the case since Ravenel's June 19 indictment.

U.S. Attorney Reggie Lloyd said Friday that prosecutors would "discuss the facts" at the hearing, though he declined to give specifics.

He also declined to say whether Ravenel has cooperated with authorities, though he said Ravenel's attorneys have been "very diligent and cooperative with this office in getting this matter resolved."

Charleston attorney Bart Daniel, one of Ravenel's lawyers and a former U.S. attorney for South Carolina, said Friday his client has been "cooperating for some time now," declining further comment.

Ravenel signed the plea agreement Aug. 24 two days after co-defendant Pasquale Pellicoro, 53, a Charleston wine-tasting expert, was indicted on the same charge.

Prosecutors haven't said whether Ravenel led authorities to Pellicoro, who remains free pending a hearing Wednesday in Columbia.

Another co-defendant, Michael Miller, 25, of Mount Pleasant, remained Friday in the Charleston County jail on a state cocaine trafficking charge.

Authorities earlier said Miller sold an unspecified amount of cocaine to Ravenel. Ravenel is accused of using cocaine and sharing it with others, though not selling it. Pellicoro's role has not been specified.

In federal cases, sentences are based on recommendations prepared by the U.S. Probation Office an arm of the court which usually takes about 60 days to prepare.

In his plea agreement, Ravenel's attorneys and prosecutors agreed the amount of cocaine involved for sentencing purposes was less than 100 grams, or less than 3.5 ounces, though a specific amount wasn't listed. The amount of drugs involved is a key factor in determining federal sentences. Based on a 50- to 100-gram threshold, the most prison time Ravenel would receive under the guidelines without any reductions is 27 months.

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