Friday, April 28, 2006

Rush Makes A Deal

(Via Palm Beach Post)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Rush Limbaugh was arrested Friday on a prescription fraud charge after reaching a deal with prosecutors that will see the single count dismissed if he continues treatment and doesn't violate the law, Limbaugh's attorney said.

The subject of a three-year investigation, Limbaugh surrendered to authorities on a warrant charging him with fraud to conceal information to obtain prescriptions, said Teri Barbera, a spokeswoman for the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office.

The 55-year-old conservative radio commentator came into the jail at about 4 p.m. with his attorney Roy Black and left an hour later after being photographed and fingerprinted. He posted $3,000 bail, Barbera said.

"He just kind of came in and he left," Barbera said.

Black said his client and prosecutors reached a settlement on a charge of doctor shopping that will be filed Monday by the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office. According to the warrant, sometime between February and August 2003, Limbaugh withheld information from a medical practitioner from whom he sought to obtain a controlled substance or a prescription that he also had received medications from another physician.

Under the terms of the deal, called a pretrial diversion, Limbaugh will be cleared of the charge and a trial won't take place if he continues drug treatment with the same doctor he has seen for the past 2 1/2 years and refrains from violating any laws, Black said.

As a formality, Limbaugh entered a plea of not guilty on the charge, said the commentator's spokesman Tony Knight.

Limbaugh has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation.

Of course, Brian Skoloff of the Associated Press and the author of this piece, can't stop with just the facts of the case, he dredges the bottom of the pond and makes the hypocrite argument:

But before his own problems became public, Limbaugh had decried drug use and abuse and mocked President Clinton for saying he had not inhaled when he tried marijuana. He often made the case that drug crimes deserve punishment.

"Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. ... And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up," Limbaugh said on his short-lived television show on Oct. 5, 1995.

During the same show, he commented that the statistics that show blacks go to prison more often than whites for the same drug offenses only illustrate that "too many whites are getting away with drug use."

I'll concede the point that drug abuse is in fact drug abuse whether or not the drug is prescription or illegal. But whether it be Rush Limbaugh or Harry Reid, I would tend to have more sympathy for someone acquiring prescription painkillers to treat pain than I would a drug addict acquiring drugs solely for the purpose of getting high. I'm not condoning either, I'm just saying that I can make that distinction.

As far as the deal goes, he continues to receive the same treatment with the same doctor who has been treating him for the last couple of years, he still pleads not guilty, pays a $30,000 fine to offset court costs, and in 18 months the slate is wiped clean. Or as commenter Scott at Outside the Beltway noted:

If the prosecutor had any case at all, he would not be cutting a deal. This is clearly a face-saving measure for the benefit of the prosecutor, whose prosecution was politically motivated to begin with.

Rush won.

In short, he gets his life back and puts an unfortunate episode in his life behind him.

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