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Sun Apr 30 2006 17:15:30 ET

Palm Beach County prosecutors rejected an overture in 2004 from Rush Limbaugh's attorneys that would have allowed the nation's top talkshow host to enter drug rehabilitation, rather than face criminal charges for prescription drug abuse.

Prosecutors, at the time, claimed they had evidence that Limbaugh committed at least 10 felonies!

It now appears James Martz, the prosecutor who headed the investigation into Limbaugh's prescription drug use, was bluffing when he said that medical records "indicate evidence that would support in excess of 10 felony counts for violations."

Prosecutors said Limbaugh, in any deal, would have to plead guilty to doctor shopping, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

[Prosecutors also suggested at the time that Limbaugh may have been involved in illegal money laundering.]

In an anticlimactic Florida finish, Limbaugh today will respond that he is "not guilty" of a single charge of fraud for concealing information to obtain a prescription -- and in 18 months the charge will be dropped and the record expunged.

The single charge only alleges that Limbaugh illegally obtained about 40 pills, said Mike Edmondson, a state attorney's spokesman. He would not elaborate or explain why prosecutors scaled back the case.

The case of the vanishing evidence...

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