Nov. 19, 2003 12:30 PM WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Authorities are investigating whether Rush Limbaugh illegally funneled money to buy prescription painkillers, a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity said Wednesday.GET YOUR NEWS HEADLINES FROM WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
In his third day back on the air after rehab in Arizona, Limbaugh responded with a blanket denial of the allegations first reported Tuesday by ABC News. "I was not laundering money. I was withdrawing money for crying out loud," Limbaugh said in his three-hour broadcast.
Law enforcement sources in Palm Beach County, where Limbaugh owns a $24 million oceanfront mansion, previously confirmed that a criminal investigation into a prescription drug ring involved the conservative radio commentator. His former maid, Wilma Cline, reported supplying him with OxyContin and other painkillers.
Authorities learned two years ago during an investigation of U.S. Trust bank in New York that Limbaugh withdrew cash 30 to 40 times from his account at amounts just under the $10,000 bank reporting requirement, ABC News reported Tuesday. A bank employee was reported to have delivered some cash to Limbaugh.
Limbaugh told listeners the report was misleading and said that he had the bank bring cash to him at his New York office "maybe four times, if that many." Otherwise, he said he obtained cash from a bank in Florida, where he was living.
"When I went to get cash, I took a check to the bank. I went to the bank officer. I said, 'Here's my check,' and they gave me the cash. There were witnesses to this," he said.
It can be a federal crime to structure financial transactions below the $10,000 limit to avoid the reporting requirement.
Limbaugh reported two years ago that he had lost most of his hearing because of an autoimmune inner-ear disease, but some medical experts have said abusing opiate-based painkillers like OxyContin can lead to profound hearing loss. Limbaugh had surgery to implant an electronic device to restore his hearing.
In the past, Limbaugh has decried drug use and abuse on his show, mocking then-President Clinton for saying he had not inhaled when he tried marijuana and often making the case that drug crimes deserve punishment.