Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend, doctors charged
Fri Mar 13, 4:35 AM
By Raquel Maria Dillon, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES - Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend Howard Stern and two doctors were charged Thursday with giving thousands of prescription drugs to the former Playboy playmate in the years leading up to her 2007 fatal overdose.
Stern and doctors Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich were each charged with three felony counts of conspiracy and several other charges of fraudulent prescriptions. Prosecutors said the doctors gave the drugs - including opiates and benzodiazepines - to Stern, who then gave them to Smith.
The prescriptions were issued between June 2004 and January 2007, just two weeks before Smith's death.
"These individuals repeatedly and excessively furnished thousands of prescription pills to Anna Nicole Smith, often for no legitimate medical purpose," California Attorney General Jerry Brown said in a statement.
Brown's spokesman, Scott Gerber, said Stern and Kapoor surrendered Thursday night and posted $20,000 bail and Eroshevich will surrender Monday.
The medical examiner's office has said Eroshevich, a Los Angeles psychiatrist and friend of the starlet's, authorized all the prescription medications found in the Hollywood, Fla., hotel room where the 39-year-old Smith was found unresponsive shortly before her death Feb. 8, 2007.
Eroshevich's lawyer, Adam Braun, acknowledged his client wrote some of the prescriptions using fictitious names for Smith but the intent wasn't to commit fraud.
"It was done for privacy reasons," Braun said.
Braun said Eroshevich began treating Smith following the death of the playmate's son in September 2006. The doctor travelled on several occasions over a six-month period to the Bahamas where Smith was living with Stern and wrote the prescriptions.
The criminal complaint alleges Kapoor wrote prescriptions for Smith but listed the patient under the alias Michelle Chase. Prosecutors allege the doctor gave Smith excessive amounts of sleep aids, opiates and benzodiazepines, knowing she was an addict.
Messages left with lawyers for Stern and Kapoor were not immediately returned.
Brown said Eroshevich and Kapoor "violated their ethical obligations as physicians, while Mr. Stern funnelled highly addictive drugs to Ms. Smith."
The criminal complaint includes eight other felony charges, including obtaining fraudulent prescriptions and unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance. In all, Stern faces six felonies and the doctors each are charged with seven.
Rumours swirled for weeks after Smith's death but police cleared those around Smith of any wrongdoing and the medical examiner's probe deemed it an accidental overdose.
Because the Playmate was found unresponsive in a hotel on native land, the case was handled by tribal police and their exemption from public records laws kept most of the investigation from being made public.
Documents obtained after Smith's death showed Ehrosevich authorized all 11 prescription medications found in the model's hotel room the day she died. Most of the drugs were prescribed in the name of Stern, her lawyer-turned-companion, and none was prescribed in Smith's own name.
The quantity was staggering. More than 600 pills - including about 450 muscle relaxants - were missing from prescriptions that were no more than five weeks old. Ultimately, it was a syrup - the powerful sleeping aid chloral hydrate - blamed for tipping the balance in the toxic mix of drugs and causing her death.
Several agencies participated in the investigation, including the attorney general's office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the state Medical Board and the state Department of Insurance.