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Limbaugh may face a rarely used charge

That only one person has been accused of "doctor shopping" recently in Palm Beach County shows police bias, his attorney says.

By Associated Press
Published January 4, 2004

WEST PALM BEACH - Palm Beach County prosecutors investigating Rush Limbaugh for his prescription drug use have filed "doctor shopping" charges against only one person in the past five years, according to a review of court records.

Limbaugh's attorneys said the review by the Palm Beach Post in its Saturday editions offers more evidence that the conservative radio commentator is being unfairly targeted.

Doctor shopping, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, is duping at least two doctors into prescribing the same controlled substance in a 30-day period. Prosecutors are examining Limbaugh's medical records to determine whether he should be charged with "doctor shopping."

"The Post's research confirms what we have been saying all along. Rush Limbaugh has been singled out for special prosecution because of who he is," Limbaugh's attorney, Roy Black, said in a statement provided to the newspaper. "We believe the state attorney's office is applying a double standard."

State Attorney Barry Krischer denied that notion, saying "Mr. Limbaugh is presumed innocent at this time."

The newspaper's review of county Clerk of Courts Office records revealed only one case in which charges of illegally acquiring overlapping prescriptions were filed. That case was never prosecuted, because the defendant died before trial.

Two other doctor shopping cases were transferred from other counties and prosecuted in Palm Beach County, the newspaper found. One woman was convicted and received 18 months probation, which she still is serving; another case remains open and has not yet gone to trial.

Investigators obtained Limbaugh's medical records in November after discovering he received more than 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors, at a pharmacy near his $24-million Palm Beach mansion. Limbaugh's former maid told investigators that she had been supplying him prescription painkillers for years.

Limbaugh admitted his addiction, saying it stemmed from severe back pain, and took a five-week leave from his radio show to enter a rehabilitation program.

Still, Limbaugh's attorneys have argued that the seizure of the records from doctors in Florida and California violates their client's privacy and that the investigation is politically motivated.

[Last modified January 4, 2004, 01:16:08]

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