Monday, March 16, 2009

Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend and doctors charged

The late Anna Nicole Smith's lawyer-turned-boyfriend has been charged with being the principal enabler in a conspiracy, along with with two doctors, to supply the "known addict" with thousands of prescription pills in the months prior to her fatal drug overdose which led to her unfortunate death.

Prosecutors claimed that doctors Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor were responsible for supplying drugs, including opiates and sedatives, to Smith's boyfriend Howard K Stern just weeks before her death in 2007.

"What we have in this case is a conspiracy among three individuals," said California Attorney General Jerry Brown. "Howard K Stern is the principal enabler, and Dr Eroshevich and Dr Kapoor are prescribing drugs excessively to a known addict and using false and fictitious names, all in violation of the law and all in furtherance of a conspiracy."

This comes after a thorough two-year probe by the attorney general, state medical and insurance officials as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In addition to the conspiracy charges, the other charges filed include unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance and prescribing, administering or dispensing a controlled substance to an addict. Stern faces six felony counts and the doctors face seven each. Each count carries a potential sentence of three years, Brown said.

On what the possible motive behind the alleged conspiracy could possibly be, Brown said, "There's a certain psychic gain here, part of the glitz and the celebrity and the power. There's a lot of money floating around," he said. "Is it self-indulgence? Is it some power trip? Is it just getting some contact high off of celebrity? That remains to be seen."

Brown's spokesman, Scott Gerber, told The Associated Press that Stern and Kapoor have already turned themselves in and posted US$20,000 bond, and that Eroshevich will hand herself in on Monday.

The medical examiner's office said Eroshevich, a Los Angeles psychiatrist and friend of the former Playboy Playmate, authorised all the prescription medications found in the Hollywood hotel room where 39-year-old Smith was found unresponsive shortly before her death in February 8, 2007.

Eroshevich's attorney, Adam Braun, did not deny that his client had written some of the prescriptions using fictitious names for Smith, but he maintains the fact that Eroshevich’s intent was never to commit fraud.

According to Braun, Eroshevich began treating Smith in September 2006 when she suffered a nervous breakdown following the death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel Smith, three days after Smith gave birth to baby girl, Dannielynn. The doctor travelled on several occasions over a six-month period to the Bahamas where Smith was living with Stern and wrote her the prescriptions.

Prosecutors also alleged Kapoor wrote prescriptions for Smith under a fake name, Michelle Chase, and that he had prescribed excessive amounts of sleep aids, opiates, muscle relaxants and methadone-like drugs despite being fully aware of the fact that Smith was an addict.

According to Brown, Eroshevich and Kapoor have "violated their ethical obligations as physicians, while Mr Stern channelled highly addictive drugs to Ms Smith". Arraignments have been set for May 13.

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