Limbaugh Blackmailed by Maid: Lawyer

updated 12/23/2003 at 12:00 AM EST

originally published 12/23/2003 5:53PM

Rush Limbaugh's lawyer said the conservative radio commentator was "bled dry" by a former maid who demanded $4 million and threatened to tell authorities and a national tabloid about his addiction to prescription painkillers, reports the Associated Press.

Attorney Roy Black said Limbaugh, 52, had to keep quiet about the maid's demand because she and her husband would use the information against him, though the couple eventually went public anyway.

The claim was made during a Monday court hearing in West Palm Beach, Fla., where Black asked that Limbaugh's medical records be kept sealed. The seizure of the records from doctors in Florida and California violated the radio star's privacy, Black argued.

Palm Beach County prosecutors, however, say they must unseal and review the records to determine how much Limbaugh's doctors knew about his frequent prescriptions for OxyContin, hydrocodone and other painkillers.

In a statement Monday, Limbaugh's lawyers denied their client was considering a plea bargain. The statement was released after Keven Bellows, a spokeswoman for Premier Radio Networks, told CNN that Black had been talking with prosecutors about Limbaugh "accepting responsibility for his actions," according to AP.

Assistant State Attorney James Martz said in court that judges approved search warrants after investigators discovered Limbaugh received more than 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors, at a pharmacy near his $24 million mansion.

"Now the next question is did those doctors know about each other?" Martz said. Reviewing the records would be the only way to determine if Limbaugh violated the law by withholding information from his doctors and went "doctor shopping" for drugs. There is also reportedly an investigation to see if Limbaugh had possibly laundered money to finance his drug use.

Black said Limbaugh suffered from a degenerative disc disease with "pain so great at one point doctors thought he had bone cancer," and that Limbaugh chose to take addictive painkillers rather than have surgery.

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