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Dispute arises over Lindsay Lohan's choice of rehab facility

By Anthony McCartney

AP Entertainment Writer

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:00 p.m. HST, May 02, 2013


LOS ANGELES » Lindsay Lohan's attorney said today the actress checked into a California rehab facility.

However, a state official indicated later in the day that the facility is not licensed to perform the type of restrictive in-patient treatment a judge sentenced her to undergo.

Attorney Mark Jay Heller told a judge during a morning hearing that Lohan was settling in at Morningside Recovery, a treatment facility in Newport Beach.

But hours later, Millicent Tidwell, acting deputy director of licensing and certification for the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, said Morningside did not have the appropriate licenses to provide residential treatment or recovery programs.

The facility is certified to provide outpatient services and operates sober living houses, which do not require licenses, Tidwell said.

Lohan's sentence in a misdemeanor driving case requires her to serve 90 days in a lockdown rehab facility. Her choice of Morningside rankled a prosecutor who said he would conduct his own investigation of the facility to make sure it complied with the terms of Lohan's sentence.

Morningside Recovery disputed that it was unlicensed and its director wrote in a statement that it has a 6,300-square-foot facility that provides drug and alcohol treatment.

"We have successfully treated thousands of patients through our program, many of which have been ordered to us by state and federal courts," Morningside's CEO Mary Helen Beatificato wrote in a statement. "Our clinical team is highly specialized in the treatment of substance abuse and more importantly, the psychiatric illnesses which often accompany individuals suffering from with chemical dependency issues."

Beatificato stated that Morningside was not a hospital-style rehab in a letter presented to Superior Court Judge James R. Dabney today.

She wrote that Lohan would not receive day passes from Morningside's programs, would undergo six hours of group counseling a day and be accompanied daily by a sober living coach. She would undergo three hours of individual counseling a week, the letter stated.

The letter did not state where Lohan would live while at Morningside. If Lohan stayed at a sober-living house, the actress could not legally receive treatment while she was at the home.

"While Morningside does not provide its treatment in a hospital-like setting, it does provide the structure and security necessary to ensure Ms. Lohan's compliance with treatment goals, and, more importantly, court ordered conditions," Beatificato said.

Dabney said during the morning hearing that based on a letter from Morningside, it appeared to meet the requirements of Lohan's sentence in the case filed after the actress crashed her car in June while on the way to a film shoot.

Tidwell said her agency was considering enforcement action against Morningside based on Heller's statements, but she declined to elaborate.

Dabney agreed that Lohan should remain at Morningside, although the actress' whereabouts were unknown today. Celebrity website TMZ reported Lohan was shopping at an electronics store while her attorney was in court, and that she never entered Morningside.

Heller argued today morning that despite a prosecutor's misgivings, the actress should be allowed to stay in treatment until a judge approves her placement.

"My client is ensconced in the bosom of that facility right now," Heller argued after a prosecutor objected to Lohan's choice of rehab facilities. "She's in rehab right now. Nothing bad is going to happen."

Dabney said Lohan should remain at the center until Santa Monica Chief Deputy City Attorney Terry White has time to conduct his investigation. White said he was "completely blindsided" by Lohan's placement at Morningside because Heller had previously agreed to send the actress to a different facility that had been vetted.

White did not return a phone message seeking comment seeking information on whether Lohan had checked in or not.

Lohan pleaded no contest in March to reckless driving and lying to police who were investigating the June accident involving the actress along the Pacific Coast Highway.

The "Liz & Dick" star also was found in violation of her probation in a 2011 necklace theft and sentenced to 180 days behind bars, but her jail term can be avoided if she complies with the full terms of her sentence, which include community labor and 18 months of psychological therapy.






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