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Ex-Bodyguard: I Saw Britney Spears Using Drugs

updated 09/24/2007 AT 12:00 PM EDT

originally published 09/24/2007 AT 08:00 AM EDT

(Video courtesy NBC)



A former bodyguard for Britney Spears – who worked for her after her release from rehab in March and was the much-hyped "secret witness" in Spears and Kevin Federline's custody case – is now making the media rounds, and he says he witnessed Britney using drugs on two occasions.

"They were both in a nightclub in Los Angeles," bodyguard Tony Barretto, who protected Spears, 25, for two months before being fired, said on Monday's Today show. "The incident happened at her table. She had me hold up a curtain, to make her area private."

Barretto, who also spoke to Britain's News of the World in an interview published Sunday, added, "The other occasion was when we escorted her to a private restroom upstairs which we secured for her. She was in there for some time alone ... I thought it would be appropriate to check on her. ... I observed this behavior."

Speaking to Today host Matt Lauer with his attorney, Gloria Allred, at his side, Barretto was asked if he found Spears appearing to be "completely strung out" in a Los Angeles hotel room. Lauer also noted that Spears lives in Los Angeles, suggesting that her being in a hotel room in a city where she already lived qualified as questionable behavior.

"Did you also see evidence of drug use in that hotel?" Lauer inquired.

"I did," said Barretto, who said he was frustrated in not being able to step in and offer help. "It was almost forbidden to talk about her personal life," he said. "Britney doesn't listen to nobody. I mean, that's apparent."

Ex-Bodyguard: I Saw Britney Spears Using Drugs| Britney Spears

Spears poses with Barretto

REX USA

Asked if he ever saw Spears use drugs or abuse alcohol in front of her children, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, Barretto replied, "I have never seen her use drugs in the presence of her children. ... Alcohol? ... I don't know if 'abuse' is the correct language. I have seen her use alcohol."

Last Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon found that Spears is a "habitual, frequent and continuous" user of alcohol and controlled substances, and ordered her to submit to random twice-weekly testing.

Gordon also ruled that both Spears and ex-husband Federline, 29, may not consume alcohol or non-prescription controlled substances at least 12 hours prior to being with their children. Spears is also ordered to meet with a "parenting coach" at least twice a week for a total of eight hours, according to court documents.

On Friday, Spears was charged with hit-and-run causing property damage and driving without a valid license, said the Los Angeles City Attorney.

Allred said Barretto's only motivation for giving interviews about his former employer was because he's the father of two young children himself.

"In my personal opinion," said Barretto, "I'm just happy the judge has stepped in [to] help the kids."

Meanwhile, Spears spent the weekend in Atlanta, sources tell PEOPLE, confirming a report on Perezhilton.com.

"She went to Atlanta [Saturday morning] to get out of the chaos of L.A., just gathering her thoughts, looking for peace," a source said.

• Reporting by MARY MARGARET



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