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Ex-'Idol 4' finalist Jessica Sierra pleads guilty, sentenced to probation


By Christopher Rocchio, 11/20/2007 

Despite a stay in rehab, Jessica Sierra still had to face the music for her legal woes.

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The former American Idol fourth-season finalist pleaded no contest on Monday to felony drug and battery charges and was sentenced to 12-months probation and random drug screening, The Tampa Tribune reported Tuesday.

In addition, The Tribune reported the 22-year-old Tampa, FL resident must also complete her current drug-rehab after-care program -- which was filmed by VH1 for Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, a new reality series that will follow Loveline host David Drew "Dr. Drew" Pinsky as he chronicles the detoxification and treatment of several celebrities.

While Sierra also has to follow up with a second component to her current drug-rehab after-care program, Assistant State Attorney Felix Vega told The Tribune he's unsure if the second portion of her rehab will be televised as part of the eight-episode VH1 series, which is scheduled to premiere Thursday, January 10 at 10PM ET/PT.

"This was very fair resolution of the case," Sierra's lawyer John Fitzgibbons told The Tribune. "It's a very typical resolution for a first-time offender with no criminal history. It will help her to get the help she has been getting and to further her career."

Sierra was arrested in April and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, possession of cocaine and introduction of contraband into a detention facility.  Following a night of partying with friends at Hyde Park Cafe in Tampa, police claimed Sierra used a cocktail glass as a weapon, breaking it over the head of Wisam Hadad and causing a gash above his eye when she mistook him for someone else.

However once she was taken to Hillsborough County Jail on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, deputies claimed they found cocaine in her purse -- which led to the second and third charges of possession of cocaine and introduction of contraband into a detention facility.

Sierra then failed to attend a procedural hearing in August on battery and drug charges and also saw the start of her trial postponed because Fitzgibbons said she'd been in a California drug and alcohol rehabilitation program since July. 

"She's done very well," Fitzgibbons told People.  "[Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew] did offer her the opportunity to participate in a drug treatment program, and our feeling was, there was no downside to it.  It's an excellent program, and she got help, and that can be very expensive in today's world. So it's kind of a win-win for her."

As part of her sentencing, Sierra must also pay restitution to Hadad and ask permission from her probation officer before traveling, according to The Tribune.  Fitzgibbons told The Tribune that Sierra is scheduled to sing at a December concert for disabled veterans in Washington DC, adding probation officials have indicated the trip "most likely will be approved."

While Sierra had hoped to enter a first-time offender pretrial diversion program -- which would have dropped the charges against her following the completion of her sentence -- Hadad objected, according to The Tribune, which Vega said meant a diversion program was not allowed. 

The criminal charges filed against Sierra will instead remain on her record but she will not be considered a convicted felon if she finishes her sentence without further problems, Vega told The Tribune.


(Photo credit Fox)


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