Lawyer Howard K. Stern and two doctors were charged Thursday with giving thousands of prescription drugs to Anna Nicole Smith for years before her death. Stern, who was also romantically involved with Smith, was charged with doctors Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich on criminal conspiracy charges and the delivery of fraudulent prescriptions. These illegal prescriptions continued until two weeks before her death.
Stern’s role began as an attorney and then appeared to morph into part of this starlet’s disastrous lifestyle.
The drugs involved opiates and benzodiazepines, which Stern allegedly administered to Smith.
Notably, the attorney for Eroshevich, a Los Angeles psychiatrist, acknowledged his client wrote some of the prescriptions using fictitious names for Smith. He insists, however, that it was not done for the purpose of fraud, indicating a defense of hiding the identity of a celebrity to avoid public disclosure of her medication. Eroshevich traveled to the Bahamas to see Smith and write the prescriptions.
The indictment says that Kapoor wrote prescriptions for Smith under the alias Michelle Chase, including sleep aids, opiates, muscle relaxants and methadone-like drugs used to treat addiction.
Stern faces six felonies and the doctors each are charged with seven.
It will be interesting if the lawyers have agreed to a joint defense strategy. The greatest danger in a case like this one is that one of the defendants will take a plea. Indeed, the fact that all three are charged may indicate that the government has sufficient witnesses with no need for cooperation. Stern is likely to have the hardest time. The image of an attorney (even a boyfriend) administering drugs will not sit well with the jury. He may have to assert the “following doctors orders defense but that would not sit well with what is known about Stern’s role in the relationship. He was accused of being a bit domineering and controlling. Moreover, the amount of drugs described in this indictment needs like the contents of a local pharmacy. If proven, it would be hard to see a reasonable belief that such an array and quantity of drugs was entirely legitimate.
For a copy of the indictment, click here.
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