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Boy George opts
for rehab in plea bargain

Boy George opts
for rehab in plea bargain

Boy George, in a plea bargain deal that spared him possible jail time, agreed Wednesday to enter a drug rehabilitation program and perform community service to resolve his arrest last year on a cocaine charge. The former pop star, whose real name is George O'Dowd, entered his guilty plea to third-degree false reporting of an incident in a New York City criminal court. He only spoke to answer questions from Judge Anthony Ferrara with a simple "yes."

Under the deal, O'Dowd will enter a drug program in England and perform five days of community service in Manhattan. He will pay a $1,000 fine and must avoid arrest on any charges over the next six months.

"I am relieved and happy that this case has been disposed of and would like to thank the judge, the district attorney, and my attorney, Lou Freeman, for the fair and speedy way it was dealt with," O'Dowd, 44, said in a statement distributed to reporters by his manager. "I love New York and am looking forward to coming back and working in the States later this year." It was signed, "George."

He must return to court June 9 with written proof of his stay in a rehabilitation program. O'Dowd had a previous drug history, including a 1986 heroin possession arrest after two of his friends overdosed. O'Dowd entered a rehab program at that point. His drug woes reportedly led to the collapse of Culture Club, which scored the hit singles "Karma Chameleon" and "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?"

O'Dowd will leave New York, most likely on Wednesday night, to head back to England and the Clouds House rehabilitation facility, said his manager, Jeremy Pearce. If convicted at trial on the drug possession charge, O'Dowd faced a possible sentence of one to 5 1/2 years, said Barbara Thompson, spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney.

He was arrested October 7, 2005, after he called 911 to report an alleged burglary in his Manhattan apartment. Officers found a small pile of cocaine next to a computer. A charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance was dropped as part of the plea bargain.

If O'Dowd had gone to trial on the false reporting charge and had been convicted, he could have spent up to a year in prison. Pearce said O'Dowd hopes to fulfill his community service obligation by putting on a concert to benefit AIDS research. (Samuel Maull, AP)

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