Authorities Eye Whether Rush Limbaugh Laundered Money Used to Pay for
By Brian Ross
Nov. 18— Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh may have violated state
money-laundering laws in the way he handled the money he used to buy
the prescription drugs to which he was addicted, law enforcement
officials in Florida and New York told ABCNEWS.
A conviction on such charges in Florida would be a first-degree felony,
punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Limbaugh returned to the airwaves this week after five weeks of
rehabilitation for his admitted addiction to
His lawyer denied today there was any foundation for a money-laundering
"There's no basis for these charges. He has not committed any acts of
money laundering and he absolutely denies it," lawyer Roy Black told
ABCNEWS. "I can assure you — and Rush assures the listeners to his radio
station — when we can, we will tell the story, and he will tell it himself.
Everybody will see what has really gone on here."
Limbaugh makes an estimated $35 million a year and had no shortage of
legally earned money to the buy the painkillers to which he became
Authorities say they became aware two years ago, during an investigation
of New York bank US Trust, that Limbaugh had taken between 30 and 40
cash withdrawals from his account in amounts just under $10,000.
Banks must file a report to the government if someone withdraws more
than $10,000 at once.
Limbaugh's lawyers confirm that as part of US Trust's service, a bank
employee personally delivered cash to Limbaugh at his New York studio in
amounts of $9,900 or so.
"That in itself is a suspicious activity: They are structuring their
transaction to avoid reporting to the government, and the bank is required
to file with the federal government something called a suspicious activity
report," said Jack Blum, an expert on financial crimes.
Limbaugh's lawyers say it was US Trust that suggested the arrangement. In
July 2001 the bank paid a $10 million fine because of the Limbaugh
transactions and many others like it.
Limbaugh's name was not made public at the time but officials told
ABCNEWS details were forwarded to state and federal investigators in
"Now the problem will be: Did he then assist his drug supplier in hiding the
proceeds from the government?" said Blum.
Limbaugh's lawyers say he did not do that and that he is being falsely
accused by those who want to force him off the air.
Officials say a decision on whether to prosecute on money-laundering
charges will be made in the next few weeks.
ABCNEWS' Vic Walter and Jill Rackmill contributed to this report.
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