By Rong-Gong Lin II and Harriet Ryan
March 13, 2009
Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend and two of her doctors were charged with repeatedly supplying the former Playboy centerfold with addictive prescription drugs since 2004, nearly three years before she died of an overdose, authorities said.
The offices of the California attorney general and the Los Angeles County district attorney announced that Smith's boyfriend and attorney, Howard Kevin Stern, 40, and doctors Sandeep Kapoor, 40, and Khristine Eroshevich, 61, had been charged with conspiring to "commit the crimes of prescribing, administering and dispensing controlled substances to an addict" and "unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance."
"These individuals furnished thousands of prescription pills to Anna Nicole Smith, often for no legitimate medical purpose," California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown said in a statement.
"There is ample evidence that Dr. Eroshevich and Dr. Kapoor violated their ethical obligations as physicians, while Mr. Stern funneled highly addictive drugs to Ms. Smith," the statement said.
According to the statement, the three provided Smith with "opiates, benzodiazepines, and other controlled and non-controlled substances."
According to the district attorney's office, the doctors were also charged with one count each of obtaining a prescription for opiates by "fraud, deceit or misrepresentation," and each was charged with obtaining a prescription for opiates by giving a false name or address.
Attorneys for Stern and Kapoor could not be reached for comment. Adam Braun, an attorney for Eroshevich, a licensed psychiatrist who practices in Anaheim and Los Angeles, acknowledged that the psychiatrist used false names on prescriptions for Smith, but said the pseudonyms were necessary to protect her patient given the oppressive media coverage.
"There was essentially a swarm of media outside her house. She had paparazzi stealing her mail and rummaging through her trash," he said of Smith.
Eroshevich wrote prescriptions for a range of psychotropic drugs for Smith to take to the Bahamas because not all the medications were available in island pharmacies, Braun said.
He said that his client plans to surrender in the next few days. Her defense, he said, is that "she did the very best she could under some very difficult circumstances."
"Failure to live up to the ideal is not necessarily criminal," he said.
Eroshevich treated Smith during the tumultuous last six months of her life, Braun said.
Braun said the psychiatrist traveled to the Bahamas "five to six times" to care for Smith, who had suffered a nervous breakdown stemming from postpartum depression and the 2006 death of her son.
Brown's office said more details about the charges would be released at a news conference this morning.
Smith died Feb. 8, 2007, at the age of 39 at a luxury hotel in Hollywood, Fla. A Broward County medical examiner ruled that the reality TV star had died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.
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