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A state prosecutor in Florida returned to court Tuesday for permission to issue more subpoenas in the long-stalled investigation into whether conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh illegally purchased thousands of powerful prescription pain pills. Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer asked Palm Beach Circuit Court Judge Thomas Barkdull III for an order permitting him to subpoena Limbaugh’s personal physician, Dr. John Murray, and Murray’s employees for testimony in connection with Limbaugh’s alleged illegal purchases. Limbaugh has not been charged with a crime. A source close to the investigation said prosecutors are looking for a signed statement from Limbaugh to Dr. Murray promising that if the doctor prescribed painkillers for him, including Oxycontin, in quantities sufficient to control his pain, Limbaugh would not try to obtain more prescription pills from other doctors. Prosecutors say Limbaugh obtained medication from other doctors as well. Many doctors insist on this type of signed letter from patients before prescribing powerful, addictive drugs such as OxyContin. That drug is sometimes called hillbilly heroin because of its power and prevalence in rural white communities around the country. If prosecutors could obtain testimony from Murray or a signed letter from Limbaugh that the talk show host would use the drugs only for pain relief and would obtain it only from Murray, that could serve as evidence that any drugs he obtained elsewhere were for other purposes. Last month, Judge Kenneth D. Stern, sitting in for Barkdull, quashed a similar Krischer subpoena and barred any contact by prosecutors with Dr. Murray. Limbaugh’s attorney, Roy Black of Miami, did not return a call for comment before deadline Tuesday. Limbaugh, who lives part of the year in a Palm Beach oceanfront mansion, first came under scrutiny after the National Enquirer published articles in October 2003 quoting his housemaid, Wilma Cline, and her husband, David Cline, that Limbaugh purchased more than 30,000 prescription pain pills from them, including OxyContin, hydrocodone and Locet, in 2001 and 2002. After the reports were published, Limbaugh acknowledged an addiction to painkillers and took a five-week leave from his nationally syndicated radio show in October 2003 to receive treatment at a posh Arizona rehabilitation clinic. He has maintained that he used the drugs only to alleviate pain, including pain associated with a chronic back problem. In 2003, Krischer’s office used search warrants to obtain Limbaugh’s medical records from his doctors’ offices. Prosecutors seized the records after learning that Limbaugh had received painkillers from four doctors in six months at a Palm Beach pharmacy near his home. The prosecutors said the records would prove Limbaugh engaged in “doctor shopping,” or illegally deceiving multiple doctors to write for him overlapping prescriptions. Prosecutors have refused to say if the records they examined contained Limbaugh’s signature on a pledge to Murray that he would not seek painkillers elsewhere. Limbaugh enlisted the support of the ACLU in legal efforts to block the investigation on medical privacy grounds. He lost at the circuit and appellate court levels, and the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear the case. In July, after reviewing Limbaugh’s seized medical records, Barkdull gave some of them to Krischer’s office for examination, returning others to Roy Black. At the time, Black said he believed the records given to Krischer’s office would not support a criminal charge.

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