Report- Prosecutors decline Limbaugh plea offer
Saturday, January 24, 2004
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Prosecutors rejected a proposed deal offered by Rush Limbaugh's attorney that would have seen the radio commentator enter a court-sponsored drug intervention program rather than face charges, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Friday.
Palm Beach County prosecutors wanted Limbaugh to plead guilty to one felony charge of "doctor shopping," a third-degree felony. Limbaugh would have received three years' probation, undergone a drug treatment program and been subject to random drug testing, according to records obtained by the newspaper through a public records request.
Limbaugh has not been arrested and no charges have been filed.
In an attempt to head off charges, Limbaugh's attorney, Roy Black, wrote prosecutors on Dec. 11 to suggest a drug intervention program without a guilty plea.
"I believe this proposal would be in keeping with the public interest," Black wrote. "The public is better served by treating addicts as patients rather than criminals."
Prosecutor James Martz wrote back Dec. 15 that an intervention program alone was not sufficient. He wrote that prosecutors had enough evidence to support more than 10 felony counts.
"This proposed resolution is offered as an alternative to unsealing your client's medical records and in an effort to bring this case to a swift and just resolution," Martz wrote.
Black said in a statement Thursday to the Sun-Sentinel that his request "was for the same treatment anyone else in this situation would receive," and called the state's response "preposterous."
It was unclear whether the prosecution offer of probation in exchange to a guilty plea on one felony count is still on the table.
Black criticized the letters' release, saying he had expected prosecutors to keep his communications with them private, and that he marked his Dec. 11 letter "confidential."
He has been critical of the investigation, calling it politically motivated.
Prosecutors began their investigation of Limbaugh, 53, last year, after his former maid told them she was Limbaugh's longtime supplier of prescription painkillers.
Limbaugh admitted his addiction to prescription painkillers in October, saying it stemmed from severe back pain. He took a five-week leave from his afternoon radio show to enter a rehabilitation program.
Limbaugh's attorneys had denied news reports last month that their client was considering a plea bargain.
Palm Beach County State Attorney spokesman Mike Edmondson declined to comment Friday. Black did not immediately return a call seeking further comment.