Stern, doctors accused of providing pills
Anna Nicole Smith’s boyfriend Howard K. 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. Prosecutors said the doctors gave the drugs – including opiates and benzodiazapines – to Stern, who then gave them to Smith over three years.
“These individuals repeatedly and excessively furnished thousands of prescription pills to Anna Nicole Smith, often for no legitimate medical purpose,” California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown said in a statement.
A spokesman for Brown told The Associated Press that two of the three had been arrested but would not specify which ones.
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 in February 2007. Eroshevich had traveled with Smith to Florida.
Eroshevich’s attorney, Adam Braun, acknowledged his client wrote some of the prescriptions using fictitious names for Smith but that the intent wasn’t to commit fraud.
“It was not to deceive anyone. It was done for privacy reasons,” Braun told the AP. “She did the best she could under difficult circumstances in the best interest of the patient.”
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.
Messages left with the other defendants’ attorneys were not immediately returned.
Brown said Eroshevich and Kapoor “violated their ethical obligations as physicians, while Mr. Stern funneled highly addictive drugs to Ms. Smith.”
The three defendants also were charged with a combined eight other felonies, including obtaining fraudulent prescriptions and unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance between June 2004 and January 2007.
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.
Several agencies participated in the investigation, including the attorney general’s office, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the state Medical Board and the state Department of Insurance