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Jessica Sierra to remain in California rehab despite probation rules

By Christopher Rocchio, 02/26/2008 

Jessica Sierra couldn't stay out of trouble in Florida, so she apparently won't be returning to the Sunshine State anytime soon.

Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Perry has allowed the former American Idol fourth-season finalist and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew participant to continue her yearlong stint at an in-house drug treatment facility in California despite bureaucratic problems with the state's probation authorities, The Tampa Tribune reported Tuesday.

While her December arrest on disorderly intoxication, resisting arrest without violence and probation violation charges occurred in Florida, Perry previously granted Sierra permission to receive her rehabilitation treatment at the Pasadena Recovery Center.

Sierra was supposed to transfer her probation status to California, however The Tribune reported the California Department of Probation is against letting her apply for their probation program while living in California.  Instead, they requested she fly back to Florida, apply for California probation status, and then return to California, Sierra's lawyer John Fitzgibbons told The Tribune.

"It's almost nonsense," he told The Tribune after Monday's court hearing.

Fitzgibbons told Perry that Sierra's progress reports indicate she's doing well in treatment in California, according to The Tribune, and the judge agreed he saw no sense in returning her to Florida -- where she's racked up a few arrests in the last year.  In addition, Perry was unsure where Sierra would stay if she were to return to Florida.

"We did not want her to come back and sit around in Tampa for a couple of weeks," Fitzgibbons told The Tribune. "This is where she's been getting in trouble."

Instead of having her make the cross-country trip from California to Florida, Perry put Sierra on "mail-in status," which requires her to check in with a Florida probation office by mail each month, The Tribune reported.  Perry will then determine how to handle the remainder of her probation -- which per her January sentencing, will last an additional three years once she leaves rehab.

Fitzgibbons told The Tribune that mail-in status is not uncommon in Sierra's situation -- when probationers live out of state under supervision of the court.  In addition, a court order requires Sierra to remain in treatment under 24-hour supervision, according to The Tribune, and a violation of those terms would necessitate a return to court.

Sierra was arrested December 1 on the aforementioned charges after she was booted from Ybor City's Full Moon Salon and allegedly became physically and verbally combative with police.  She subsequently pleaded not guilty to the charges before Perry sentenced her to the yearlong stint in rehab followed by three years probation.

At the time of her December arrest, Sierra had already been on probation due to an April incident in which she was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, possession of cocaine and introduction of contraband into a detention facility. She had pleaded no contest to felony drug and battery charges and had been sentenced to 12-months probation and random drug screening less than two weeks before her new December arrest.

Sierra's father Joseph told The Tribune he'd rather his daughter remain in California than return to Florida, adding he's spoken with her on the phone and she "sounds good, is feeling good about herself, and is 90-days sober."

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