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THE NATION

President's Niece Out of Jail and Back in Drug Treatment

July 21, 2002|MIKE SCHNEIDER | ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

ORLANDO, Fla. — Noelle Bush, Gov. Jeb Bush's 24-year-old daughter, was released from jail and allowed to return to a drug rehab center Friday, two days after being locked up for allegedly taking prescription pills from a nurse's cabinet.

"I would not allow you to go back to the facility if I didn't think you could do the program," Circuit Judge Reginald Whitehead said in giving the president's niece a second chance in rehab.

"You're very intelligent, you have the support there. You just need to work on the decisions that you're making, and I know that you can do it."

Bush, accompanied by her brother, George P. Bush, and her attorney, said nothing in her defense during the two-minute hearing.

"She's definitely remorseful with what happened," George P. Bush said afterward. "She recognizes her errors, that she's not perfect and that she made a mistake."

Bush was jailed Wednesday for contempt of court for violating the terms of her court-ordered drug treatment program. She was accused of taking prescription pills from a cabinet in a nurse's office at the rehab center where she was being treated.

Whitehead sent Bush to jail for three days. Jail spokesman Allen Moore said any part of a day was counted as an entire day.

Bush's lawyer, Pete Antonacci, said his client tested negative for having taken the pills. He said he did not know what kind of pills they were.

Bush was arrested in January at a pharmacy drive-through window after allegedly trying to buy the anti-anxiety drug Xanax with a fraudulent prescription. She was admitted to the treatment center a month later, with the possibility charges would be dropped if she completed the program.

The governor was allowed to visit his daughter in jail for several minutes Wednesday, even though visits are usually limited to weekends.

"She realized there are consequences to her actions and that she has to pay a price," he said. "I respect the judge's decision."

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