LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lindsay Lohan's attorney said Thursday the actress checked into a Southern California rehab facility that a state official said is unlicensed to perform the type of treatment a judge required her to receive.
Mark Jay Heller told a judge 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.
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."
Tidwell said her agency was considering enforcement action against Morningside based on Heller's statements, but she declined to elaborate.
Heller argued Thursday 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."
Heller presented Superior Court Judge James R. Dabney a letter from Morningside showing that it complied with a court order to keep Lohan on lockdown for 90 days.
Dabney agreed that Lohan should remain at Morningside, although the actress' whereabouts were unknown. Celebrity website TMZ reported Lohan was shopping at an electronics store while her attorney was in court, and that she never entered Morningside.
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.
Dabney said that based on a letter from Morningside, it appeared to meet the requirements of Lohan's sentence in a case filed after the actress crashed her car in June while on the way to a film shoot.
White did not return a phone message seeking comment seeking information on whether Lohan had checked in or not. Tidwell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP
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