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Wednesday, 20 June, 2001, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK
West Wing creator in rehab
Aaron Sorkin and Steve Sitkoff
Sorkin in court with lawyer Steve Sitkoff
The creator of TV political drama The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin, has been ordered to undergo drugs rehabilitation after pleading guilty to drug charges at a Los Angeles court.

Mr Sorkin, 39, was arrested at Burbank Airport, Los Angeles on 15 April, after security officers found a small bag suspected of containing drugs in his hand luggage.

Aaron Sorkin
Sorkin: $15m deal with Warner Bros TV
After a brief hearing, Sorkin was ordered to give up drug use or face up to three years and eight months in prison and fines of more than 7,000.

Sorkin agreed to the arrangement and said it was a "relief" that the charges will be dropped in two years if he passes regular drugs tests.

"Needless to say, it is a relief to have a resolution regarding my legal situation," said Sorkin, with his wife at his side.

"I fully intend to proceed as directed by the court and am eager to get back to work and focus on what's important."

Pleaded innocent

Sorkin was charged with two felony counts of drug possession - one for hallucinogenic mushrooms and one for cocaine - and one misdemeanour count for marijuana.

Sorkin - who wrote the films A Few Good Men and The American President - had originally pleaded innocent to the charges.

He changed his plea to guilty in order to qualify for a the drug diversion programme.

Under a new Californian law, Sorkin has not been convicted of either charge and the charges will be dropped is he keeps the terms of the agreement.

The West Wing cast
West Wing won a record nine Emmys in 2000
"He will come back to court periodically and we expect to have the case completely dismissed in the next 18 months," Sorkin's lawyer Steve Sitkoff said.

Neither has Sorkin faced any disciplinary action from his employers.

He will return to work later this year to oversee the third series of The West Wing.

Sorkin, who is from New York, has won an Emmy for the show, which stars Martin Sheen as the American president.

The show won a record nine Emmys in 2000.

He has also worked on Schindler's List, Enemy of the State and The Rock.

Last July, he signed a four-year deal with Warner Bros TV for a reported $15m (10.5m) - the first time he has signed an exclusive long-term production deal.

See also:

17 Apr 01 | Entertainment
West Wing creator arrested
11 Sep 00 | Entertainment
The West Wing sweeps Emmys
01 May 01 | TV and Radio
West Wing creator charged
03 May 01 | TV and Radio
West Wing creator pleads innocent
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