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Drug Rehab Complete, Noelle Bush Goes Home

The Nation

August 09, 2003|From Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — Gov. Jeb Bush's daughter completed a drug rehabilitation program Friday, and a judge dismissed drug charges against her and allowed her to go home with her parents.

Noelle Bush hugged Circuit Judge Reginald Whitehead during a drug court hearing as the governor and his wife, Columba, smiled. The president's niece had been ordered into treatment after she was arrested in January 2002 for allegedly trying to use a fraudulent prescription to buy the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.

"It's been quite a challenge, and I'm grateful," Bush, 26, said during the hearing at the Orange County Courthouse. "It has been an honor to know you," she told the judge.

The governor refused comment, but his press office released a statement on his behalf.

"Columba and I are pleased that our daughter Noelle has completed this step, and grateful for the treatment she's received," the statement read. "She has worked hard to get here. We are proud of her efforts and love her very much."

Whitehead twice sent Noelle Bush to jail for breaking the rules in rehab. She was jailed for three days in July 2002 after being caught with prescription pills and served 10 days in October after being accused of having a small rock of crack cocaine in her shoe.

"This is your day today," Whitehead said. "I'm not here to recognize your family members or anything. They're here because they're proud of you and care about what you've done."

Bush was eligible for the drug court program as a first-time offender. If she had gone through the regular criminal justice system, she could have been sentenced to as much as five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

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