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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 20:15 GMT
Bush's niece on drugs charge
George (left) and Jeb Bush
The arrest coincides with George Bush's key address
Noelle Bush, the daughter of Florida Governor Jeb Bush and niece of President George W Bush, has been arrested for allegedly trying to obtain a controlled drug with a fraudulent prescription.

She was arrested early on Tuesday morning at a drive-through pharmacy while allegedly trying to buy the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in Tallahassee, Florida's state capital, police said.

We ask the public and the media to respect our daughter's privacy at this difficult time so we can help our daughter

Jeb and Columba Bush
Noelle Bush, 24, was released several hours later, after being charged with prescription fraud.

Jeb Bush and his wife Columba issued a plea for understanding after his daughter's arrest: "Columba and I are deeply saddened... This is a very serious problem," the statement said.

"Unfortunately, substance abuse is an issue confronting many families across our nation.

"We ask the public and the media to respect our daughter's privacy at this difficult time so we can help our daughter."

Drive-through pharmacy

According to the Tallahassee police report, a woman phoned in the prescription to the pharmacy, leaving the information on two voice mail messages.

Noelle Bush
Noelle Bush allegedly tried to obtain a sedative

The pharmacist said he became suspicious because the caller did not state a quantity. He then checked with the answering service of the doctor who supposedly prescribed the drug.

Another doctor there told him the doctor in question was no longer practising in Tallahassee and the phoned-in prescription should be treated as fraudulent, the police report said.

When Noelle Bush came to the drive-through window to pick up the prescription, the pharmacist phoned police and she was arrested.

Noelle Bush later admitted to police that the contact number for Dr Scidmore that was left on the pharmacy answering machine was her second home phone line, investigators said.

Xanax, a sedative similar to Valium, is typically prescribed for anxiety or sleep problems.

Political dynasty

Noelle Bush is the second of Jeb and Columba Bush's three children and their only daughter.

Columba Bush
Columba Bush has worked for a charity educating families about drug abuse

Her arrest comes after President Bush's own twin daughters were fined for underage drinking in Texas last summer.

The arrest also coincides with President Bush's State of the Union address, the most important presidential speech of the year.

It is the second time Jeb Bush's family has been affected by drugs.

In 1994, Mr Bush disclosed that his family was struggling with a drug problem involving one of his children, but refused to say which one.

Noelle has lived with her parents in the Florida governor's mansion since graduating from Tallahassee Community College.

See also:

06 Jul 01 | Americas
More bother for Bush daughter
08 Jun 01 | Americas
Alcohol sentence for Bush daughter
02 Jun 01 | Americas
Appeal for First Family's privacy
01 Jun 01 | Americas
US teens and the bottle
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