Limbaugh Defends Bank Activity

Rush Limbaugh money laundering
CBS/AP
Authorities are investigating whether conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh illegally funneled money to buy prescription painkillers, a law enforcement source said on condition of anonymity.

In his third day back on the air after rehab, Limbaugh responded Wednesday with a blanket denial of the allegations first reported Tuesday by ABC News.

"I was not laundering money. I was withdrawing money for crying out loud," Limbaugh said in his three-hour broadcast.

Limbaugh was absent from his show for five weeks after announcing he was entering a drug rehabilitation program because of his addiction to prescription painkillers.

Law enforcement sources in Palm Beach County, where Limbaugh owns a $24 million oceanfront mansion, previously confirmed that a criminal investigation into a prescription drug ring involved the conservative radio commentator. His former maid, Wilma Cline, reported supplying him with OxyContin and other painkillers.

Authorities learned two years ago during an investigation of U.S. Trust bank in New York that Limbaugh withdrew cash 30 to 40 times from his account at amounts just under the $10,000 bank reporting requirement, ABC News reported Tuesday. A bank employee was reported to have delivered some cash to Limbaugh.

Limbaugh told listeners the report was misleading and said that he had the bank bring cash to him at his New York office "maybe four times, if that many." Otherwise, he said he obtained cash from a bank in Florida, where he was living.

Further, he said his bank, U.S. Trust, advised him to make withdrawals that were less than $10,000 as a way to lessen the bank's paperwork.

"There was a $10,000 reporting requirement and they said if you keep it under that, then nobody has to file any paperwork ... and so that's what I did," Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh's lawyer, Roy Black, did not return a phone call for comment Wednesday.

It can be a federal crime to structure financial transactions below the $10,000 limit to avoid the reporting requirement.

Limbaugh said he started taking painkillers "some years ago" after a doctor prescribed them following spinal surgery. Limbaugh said he became hooked taking the pills for chronic post-surgical pain.

Limbaugh reported two years ago that he had lost most of his hearing because of an autoimmune inner-ear disease, but some medical experts have said abusing painkillers can lead to profound hearing loss.

Limbaugh had surgery to implant an electronic device to restore his hearing.

In the past, Limbaugh has decried drug use and abuse on his show, mocking then-President Bill Clinton for saying he had not inhaled when he tried marijuana and often making the case that drug crimes deserve punishment.

By Jill Barton