Limbaugh to Judgment

Primary sources exposed and explained.
May 3 2006 4:08 PM

Limbaugh to Judgment

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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.

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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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Doctor shopping. In Florida, this is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. First offenders, though, rarely if ever go to the Big House.
This is not a plea agreement. If he isn't a good dittohead, Limbaugh can still be prosecuted a year and a half from now.
This program is run by the Florida Department of Correctiions, which will monitor the agreement.
They really know how to hurt a guy!

 

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

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