Correction to This Article
An article in the April 29 Style section incorrectly identified the local radio station on which Rush Limbaugh's show is heard. It is WMAL (630 AM).

Rush Limbaugh Turns Himself In On Fraud Charge In Rx Drug Probe

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By Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 29, 2006

MIAMI, April 28 -- Talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh surrendered to authorities Friday on a charge of committing fraud to obtain prescription drugs, concluding an investigation that for more than two years has hovered over the law-and-order conservative.

The charge will be dropped in 18 months, said his attorney, Roy Black, provided that Limbaugh continues treatment for drug addiction, as he has for 2 1/2 years. According to an agreement with the Palm Beach County state's attorney's office, Limbaugh also must pay $30,000 to defray the costs of the investigation, as well as $30 a month for his supervision.

The agreement is not an admission of guilt to the charge, which was fraud by concealing information to obtain a prescription.

A spokesman for the state's attorney's office, Mike Edmondson, said the agreement dropping the charge is "standard for first-time offenders who admit their addiction."

Prosecutors had contended that Limbaugh engaged in "doctor-shopping" -- that is, deceiving several doctors to receive overlapping prescriptions for painkillers. He has filed a plea of not guilty with the court.

"Mr. Limbaugh and I have maintained from the start that there was no doctor-shopping, and we continue to hold this position," Black said in a statement.

In court documents, investigators connected Limbaugh to 19 prescriptions for the drugs Lorcet, Norco and hydrocodone called in between April and August 2003. The prescriptions were issued by doctors in New York, Florida and California. According to medical records, Limbaugh's doctor in Palm Beach County was unaware of some of the other prescriptions.

Limbaugh was using prodigious amounts of the painkillers, according to the documents. In May 2003, a prescription for 50 tablets of Lorcet was filled for Limbaugh at the Zitomer Pharmacy on Madison Avenue in New York. The tablets were to be taken at a rate of two a day, and at that pace the prescription should have lasted 25 days. Three days later, a prescription was filled for Limbaugh at the same pharmacy for another 50 tablets. A third prescription for 96 tablets of Norco was filled about the same time at the Lewis Pharmacy in Palm Beach, according to the court documents.

Limbaugh, accompanied by Black, turned himself in about 4 p.m. Friday, was fingerprinted, photographed and released, said Palm Beach County sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera.

He did not appear perturbed. "If you look at his picture, he has a smile on his face," she said.

Attorney Black said in his statement that because Limbaugh had planned to continue treatment in any case, "we believe the outcome for him personally will be much as if he had fought the charge and won."

The news that Limbaugh, a savage critics of others' moral behavior, was addicted to drugs was taken as a sign of hypocrisy by his detractors. His friends and staunchest fans, however, said Limbaugh was merely working through the kinds of challenges that can affect anyone.

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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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