- The Washington Times - Monday, May 1, 2006

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Rush Limbaugh must submit to random drug tests under an agreement filed yesterday that will dismiss a prescription-fraud charge against the conservative commentator after 18 months, if he complies with the terms.

The national radio talk-show host also must continue treatment for his acknowledged addiction to painkillers and he cannot own a gun.

The agreement did not call for Mr. Limbaugh to admit to being guilty of 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 Friday.

“Do you think if there was any real evidence, we would have reached a settlement?” Mr. Limbaugh said yesterday on his radio show.

Mr. Limbaugh said he has been undergoing random drug tests for 2 years and has not “even craved a painkiller since I got out of rehab.”

His attorney, Roy Black, yesterday told the Associated Press that the agreement was “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.”

Prosecutors began their investigation in 2003 after Mr. Limbaugh’s housekeeper said he abused OxyContin and other painkillers. He entered a five-week rehabilitation program that year and said he became addicted as a result of severe back pain.

“I spoke recently with his doctor, who told me Mr. Limbaugh has made an exceptionally strong recovery and remains firmly committed to continued treatment,” Mr. Black said.

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

Mr. Limbaugh, 55, had blasted the investigation as a “fishing” expedition and repeatedly maintained that he was innocent.

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 that Mr. Limbaugh received up to 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors in six months.

The single charge, however, accuses Mr. Limbaugh only of illegally obtaining 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.

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