Limbaugh to Judgment
On May 1, Rush Limbaugh signed a "deferred prosecution agreement" (see below) with the Palm Beach state attorney. The agreement is the outcome of a three-year investigation into Limbaugh's procurement of OxyContin and other painkillers, to which he became addicted after spinal surgery.
News of Limbaugh's addiction first appeared in an October 2003 National Enquirer story in which a former housekeeper of Limbaugh's claimed Limbaugh paid her tens of thousands of dollars to procure painkillers. Although that claim was never substantiated, Limbaugh publicly admitted his addiction and entered a drug rehab program. Meanwhile, State Attorney Barry Krischer concluded that Limbaugh had acquired painkillers through illegal "doctor shopping"—receiving overlapping prescriptions from different doctors who are unaware of one another—and seized Limbaugh's medical records, which reportedly showed that Limbaugh acquired more than 2,000 painkillers over a period of five months. Limbaugh responded by declaring the seizure illegal and challenging it, unsuccessfully, in court. He also took out full-page ads in the Palm Beach Post and Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel in which he accused Krischer, a Democrat, of pursuing him for political reasons.
Krischer has been looking to settle this case for three years. Originally he insisted on a guilty plea to doctor shopping, which is a felony in Florida. Krischer argued that Limbaugh's medical records "would support in excess of ten felony counts." Now Krischer has dropped that demand. Instead, he is in effect putting Limbaugh on a kind of probation. If Limbaugh honors the agreement, Krischer won't prosecute. Limbaugh likens the agreement to a verdict of "not guilty." That isn't remotely true. Newsweek came closer to the mark when it labeled the outcome "a slap on the wrist." According to Michael Edmondson, spokesman for the state attorney's office, first offenders typically aren't jailed for doctor shopping.
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Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.