The chief executive of a Newport Beach rehabilitation facility that actress Lindsay Lohan entered Thursday for court-ordered treatment defended the recovery center against charges that it’s not licensed to provide residential drug or alcohol treatment.
The actress entered Morningside Recovery LLC in Newport Beach on Thursday, her attorney Mark Heller told Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Dabney. Heller assured the judge that the facility fully complied with the court’s requirement that it provide Lohan with 90 days of therapy in a setting in which she could not leave.
But on Thursday state officials said the facility could not meet such a mandate.
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"They do not have a license to operate a 24-hour-a-day, residential treatment facility; what they do have is a certification to provide outpatient services at a clinic," said Millicent Tidwell, deputy director of the licensing division of the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.
"In Ms. Lohan's case, she was ordered to go to a residential treatment facility and they are not a licensed residential treatment facility." She said the only treatment the facility can provide is "outpatient."
Tidwell said licenses for three Costa Mesa facilities run by Morningside Recovery LLC were revoked in 2012. She said the Newport Beach facilities are “unlicensed” and could only operate as sober-living facilities.
In a prepared statement, Mary Helen Beatificato, chief executive officer of Morningside, said it was “completely false” to report that Morningside has "no license/certification to provide drug and alcohol treatment." She said treatment is conducted by licensed clinicians at a 6,300-square-foot state-certified clinic and not at sober-living homes in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.
"No treatment is conducted in these homes," Beatificato said, noting that the license that was suspended and then revoked was for residential detoxification services.
A state Senate report last year described Morningside as a "rogue rehab" and questioned whether the state licensing agency had done enough oversight of its operations.
Tidwell said Morningside appears to interchange its status as a certified outpatient facility with that of a licensed residential rehab. "They are not a licensed residential facility," Tidwell said.
On Thursday, Santa Monica city prosecutor Terry White told the judge that he had only learned of the Morningside rehab facility from reporters and demanded to review its compliance — a request granted by the judge.
"This is highly improper," White protested to Dabney, noting that he learned from the media that Lohan had chosen the Newport Beach facility.
White said he was initially informed that Lohan would check into a New York facility. He has a week to review Morningside and raise any objections.
Dabney cautioned that the Morningside rehab program must "fall within the parameters of the plea agreement."
"If we decide the program doesn’t measure up to the plea agreement, she will have to move to a different program," Dabney said. The judge, after briefly reviewing materials from the facility, said on its face "it appears it does."
Dabney asked prosecutors to inform him by May 10 whether they want a hearing to challenge Morningside's compliance with the plea agreement.
Tidwell said Morningside’s licenses for its Costa Mesa facilities were revoked last year “for several reasons.”
According to court records provided by the agency, Morningside has previously been accused of not properly storing and destroying medications. In 2011, it also was accused of not maintaining client confidentiality. Last year, the state found it was “advertised as providing residential drug abuse recovery or treatment services without a license.”
An April 2012 death investigation found that a client at one of the Costa Mesa facilities did not receive a medical referral for medical services. The state alleged that the facility was also serving far more people than it was licensed for.
An administrative judge revoked the Costa Mesa licenses in August 2012, noting that while the then-operator “has taken significant steps” to correct its violations, it had not completely resolved all of its problems. The judge added that the number and the seriousness of the violations warranted revocation.
The "Mean Girls" star avoided jail in a last-minute deal by pleading no contest to misdemeanor reckless driving and providing false information to police. A charge of willfully resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer was dismissed. In addition to spending 90 days in rehab, she must also spend 18 months in psychotherapy and serve 30 days of community service.
In pleading no contest, Lohan admitted she had violated her probation in a 2011 shoplifting case.
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