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Rehab, $30,000 to keep Limbaugh out of court

Attorney: Prosecutor to drop charge after 18 months of treatment
Radio host Rush Limbaugh smiles for his police mug shot.


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Rush Limbaugh
Crime, Law and Justice

(CNN) -- Firebrand radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was charged Friday with fraudulently concealing information to obtain prescription drugs, but prosecutors will drop the charge after 18 months if Limbaugh remains in treatment for drug addiction, his lawyer said.

Limbaugh also agreed to pay the state of Florida $30,000 to help cover the cost of the investigation into the conservative radio personality's alleged "doctor shopping," a felony in Florida.

Attorney Roy Black said the deal will end a lengthy investigation into whether Limbaugh "doctor shopped," which is illegally obtaining prescriptions from multiple sources. Limbaugh acknowledged an addiction to painkillers in October 2003 after his former housekeeper told The National Enquirer she sold drugs to him. (Watch how Rush Limbaugh made a deal -- 2:56)

Following the revelation, Limbaugh left his radio show for five weeks while he attended a rehabilitation program.

"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, adding that Limbaugh pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Limbaugh was planning on remaining in treatment anyway, Black said, so "we believe the outcome for him personally will be much as if he had fought the charge and won."

The radio host turned himself in to the Palm Beach County sheriff's office on Friday and was released on bail before 5 p.m., a sheriff's spokesman said.

Although Black urged reporters not to call it an arrest -- because Limbaugh turned himself in and was never handcuffed -- a sheriff's spokesman said technically he was under arrest during his booking.

The single charge will stand until Limbaugh has finished 18 months of drug treatment. Then, under the agreement with the Palm Beach County state attorney, the charge will be dropped, Black said.

"As a primary condition of the dismissal, Mr. Limbaugh must continue to seek treatment from the doctor he has seen for the past two-and-one-half years," Black said. "This is the same doctor under whose care Mr. Limbaugh has remained free of his addiction without relapse."

During the investigation, authorities seized prescription records from several drugstores from which Limbaugh obtained 2,000 pills over six months, prosecutors said.

Last year, Black said Limbaugh was prescribed eight hydrocodone pills a day for seven months, "which is not excessive and is in fact a lawful dose."

Hydrocodone is a potent painkiller that can become addictive.

The majority of the medicine was prescribed by two doctors who were treating Limbaugh for back pain, the attorney said. The doctors worked in the same office.

The rest of the painkillers were prescribed by a California doctor who performed surgery to restore Limbaugh's hearing, and a Florida doctor who prescribed Limbaugh vitamin pills and a medication to combat ringing in the ears, Black said.

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