Rush Limbaugh Deal Includes Drug Tests

Rush Limbaugh Mug shot CBS

Rush Limbaugh must submit to random drug tests under an agreement filed Monday that will dismiss a prescription fraud charge against the conservative radio talk show commentator after 18 months if he complies with the terms.

Limbaugh also must continue treatment for his acknowledged addiction to painkillers and he cannot own a gun.

The agreement did not call for Limbaugh to admit guilt to the charge that he sought a prescription from a physician in 2003 without revealing that he had received medications from another practitioner within 30 days. He pleaded not guilty on Friday.

"This is a common sense resolution and the appropriate way the state should treat people who have admitted an addiction to prescription pain medication and voluntarily sought treatment," Limbaugh's attorney, Roy Black, said in a statement Monday to The Associated Press.

Prosecutors launched their investigation in 2003 after Limbaugh's housekeeper alleged he abused OxyContin and other painkillers. He entered a five week rehabilitation program that year after saying in 2003 that he started taking painkillers "some years ago" after a doctor prescribed them following a spinal surgery. His back pain stemming from the surgery persisted, so Limbaugh said he started taking pills and became hooked.

"I spoke recently with his doctor who told me Mr. Limbaugh has made an exceptionally strong recovery and remains firmly committed to continued treatment," said Black, who said Limbaugh has been drug free for 2 1/2 years.

The Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office may revoke or modify the deal if Limbaugh violates the terms, according to the agreement.

Limbaugh, 55, had blasted the investigation as a "fishing" expedition and repeatedly maintained he is innocent.

Limbaugh has a huge audience — 14 to 20 million people listen to his show every week.

Prosecutors accused him of illegally deceiving multiple doctors to receive overlapping prescriptions, a practice known as doctor shopping. After seizing his medical records, authorities learned Limbaugh received up to 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors in six months.

However, the single charge only alleges that Limbaugh illegally obtained about 40 pills, said Mike Edmondson, a state attorney's spokesman. He would not elaborate or explain why prosecutors scaled back the case.

Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney and Miami defense lawyer, said the agreement is a standard deal for first-time, nonviolent drug offenders.

Before his own problems became public, Limbaugh had decried drug use and abuse and mocked President Clinton for saying he had not inhaled when he tried marijuana. He often made the case that drug crimes deserve punishment.

"Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. ... And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up," Limbaugh said on his short-lived television show on Oct. 5, 1995.
  • Jarrett Murphy

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