Most celebrity addicts are applauded for seeking treatment. http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/state/7779434.htm Prosecutors decline Rush Limbaugh's plea offer JILL BARTON Associated Press WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Prosecutors rejected a deal Rush Limbaugh's attorney suggested that would have seen the conservative radio commentator enter a drug intervention program rather than face charges for illegally obtaining prescription painkillers, records show. Instead, Palm Beach County prosecutors wanted Limbaugh to plead guilty to the third-degree felony of "doctor shopping" - visiting several doctors to receive duplicate prescriptions of a controlled narcotic. According to records of exchanges between prosecutors and Limbaugh's attorney, the prosecutors' offer included three years' probation, participation in a drug treatment program and random drug testing. Limbaugh has been under investigation for months, has not been arrested and no charges have been filed. Limbaugh's attorney, Roy Black, dismissed the prosecutors' offer and pointed in his letters to a state policy against prosecuting addicts. Black said Palm Beach State Attorney Barry Krischer had told him prosecutors instead go after drug dealers and doctors who illegally prescribe medications. Limbaugh's attorneys began discussing the case with prosecutors in early October - more than a week before Limbaugh stunned listeners by admitting he was addicted to prescription painkillers and would leave his show for five weeks to enter rehab. The letters and court records were first obtained by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel through a public records request and disclosed in a story the newspaper published Friday. In an attempt to head off charges, Black wrote prosecutors on Dec. 11 to suggest that his client enter a court-sponsored 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 on Dec. 15 that an intervention program alone was not sufficient. He said prosecutors had enough evidence to support more than 10 felony charges. Martz said a guilty plea would allow prosecutors to drop their efforts to unseal Limbaugh's medical records. On. Dec. 22, Limbaugh's attorneys denied to reporters that he was seeking a deal. It was unclear Friday whether the prosecution offer is still on the table. In a statement Friday, Black called the prosecutors' offer "ludicrous." He said he was asking "for the same treatment anyone else in this situation would receive" and said the state's response was "consistent with their double standard in this case." "The facts are: Mr. Limbaugh went to these doctors to relieve chronic, intractable pain; there was no doctor shopping," Black said. Black criticized the letters' release, saying it violates the Florida statutes, the rules of procedure and evidence, and Florida Bar Rules. In his Dec. 11 letter marked "confidential," Black listed Florida statutes that showed why it should not be released. "Because the state has no case against Mr. Limbaugh they continually seek to discredit him in the media," Black said in Friday's statement. But prosecutors said they consulted with public records experts from the Florida Attorney General's office and the Florida Bar because they were worried that releasing the letter could raise questions of professional responsibility. But those experts said that Florida's public records law takes precedence, adding that there was an ethical and legal obligation to release the letter. Prosecutors began their investigation of Limbaugh, 53, last year, after his former maid told them she was Limbaugh's longtime supplier of prescription painkillers. The investigation is being held up while an appeals court decides whether investigators should have access to Limbaugh's medical records. Investigators seized them in November, but courts have ordered them sealed. Limbaugh's attorneys have argued that the seizure violated his privacy rights. Limbaugh and his attorneys argue that the investigation is politically motivated and that the medical records would only prove Limbaugh was prescribed painkillers for a serious medical condition, leading to his addiction. Limbaugh has also repeatedly criticized the investigation during his nationwide radio show and has accused authorities of leaking information to damage his reputation. His show reaches some 600 markets and about 20 million listeners a week. Palm Beach County State Attorney spokesman Mike Edmondson declined comment Friday. Krischer, the state attorney, has repeatedly said prosecutors are protecting Limbaugh's rights and that he is presumed innocent.