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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Howard K. Stern, Doctors Plead Not Guilty to Charges in Anna Nicole Drug Case

March 13, 2009

Anna Nicole Smith's lawyer and former boyfriend Howard K. Stern and two of her doctors pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that they helped give thousands of prescription drugs to the former Playboy Playmate in the years leading up to her fatal drug overdose in 2007.

Stern, 40, Kristine Eroshevich, 61, and another doctor, Sandeep Kapoor, 40, each face six counts including conspiracy. The commissioner granted a motion requiring each defendant to provide a handwriting sample and she scheduled a June 8 court date to determine when a preliminary hearing in the case will begin.

Each defendant faces up to five years, eight months in prison if convicted. What? That is nothing...the woman AND her son are dead!

The three defendants were each charged March 12 with three felony counts of conspiracy and several other charges of fraudulent prescriptions last month. Prosecutors said the doctors gave the drugs — including opiates and benzodiazepines — to Stern, who then gave them to Smith.
Their arraignment was previously postponded from April 7, by Superior Court Commissioner Kristi Lousteau.

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown (ol' Gerry Brown) has called Stern Smith's "principal enabler" adding that "[Smith] took the drugs almost to the point of stupefication."
But at a press conference following court proceedings Wednesday, Stern's attorney Steve Sadow reaffirmed his belief in his client's innocence. "[Stern] didn't commit a crime, period," Sadow told reporters. "Every one of the people in this case contends that there was no crime, because in fact, there was no crime."

Sadow said he had filed a demurrer, a legal document contending that the law under which Stern is charged does not apply to him. "The statute deals with medical practitioners," he said. "He is not a doctor." Sadow previously said that Smith's prescriptions were legitimate, she was not a drug addict and that she was in control of her own life.

Kapoor's lawyer, Ellyn Garafalo, said he continues to practice medicine and his patients have been supportive...

The medical examiner's office has said Eroshevich, a Los Angeles psychiatrist and friend of the deceased, 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 in February 2007. Eroshevich had traveled with Smith to Florida. (then flew back to L.A. just before she died.)

Eroshevich's attorney, Adam Braun, acknowledged his client wrote some of the prescriptions using fictitious names for Smith, but said that the intent wasn't to commit fraud..."It was done for privacy reasons," Braun told the AP...

Braun said Eroshevich began treating Smith following the death of the playmate's son in September 2006. The doctor traveled on several occasions over a six-month period to the Bahamas where Smith was living with Stern and wrote the prescriptions.

The criminal complaint also alleges Kapoor wrote prescriptions for Smith under a patient alias Michelle Chase. Prosecutors allege the doctor gave her excessive amounts of sleep aids, opiates, muscle relaxants and methadone-like drugs used to treat addiction, knowing she was an addict.
Brown said Eroshevich and Kapoor "violated their ethical obligations as physicians, while Mr. Stern funneled highly addictive drugs to Ms. Smith through Howard K Stern."

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...

Eleven prescription medications were found in Smith's hotel room the day she died, according to the medical examiner's office. More than 600 pills — including about 450 muscle relaxants — were missing from prescriptions that were no more than five weeks old when 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.

Ultimately, it was a syrup — the powerful sleeping aid chloral hydrate — blamed with tipping the balance in the toxic mix of drugs and causing her death...

[Stern] continues an ongoing court fight over the oil fortune of Anna Nicole's late second husband, J. Howard Marshall, even though all original principals are now dead...

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