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Attorney general calls Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend her 'principal enabler'

March 14, 2009|Harriet Ryan

Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown lambasted Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend as her "principal enabler" on Friday and called the recent charges against him and two doctors for illegally providing her with prescription drugs "damn serious."

"My hope is the message will go out: Doctors do not have a license to pump innocent and often vulnerable people full of dangerous chemicals," Brown said.

Speaking before a throng of television cameras that echoed the intense media coverage of Smith's 2007 fatal overdose on prescription drugs at the age of 39, Brown stopped short of blaming Smith's boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, and her doctors for the death.

But he said the two-year investigation by his office, state medical and insurance officials and the Drug Enforcement Administration revealed behavior in the celebrity realm just as troubling as dope pushers in poor neighborhoods.

"As a matter of fact, people in white smocks in pharmacies with their medical degrees are a growing threat," Brown said.

Stern, psychiatrist Khristine Eroshevich and gerontologist Sandeep Kapoor are charged with conspiracy for prescribing an addict medication as well as other counts.

Authorities contend the doctors and Stern gave the model thousands of addictive pills during a three-year period leading up to her death in a Florida hotel.

The trio faces a maximum sentence of five to six years in prison if convicted, according to a prosecutor.

Stern and Kapoor turned themselves in to the Whittier Police Department on Thursday night and were freed on $20,000 bail. Eroshevich planned to turn herself in on Monday, authorities said. All three are scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court on May 13.

Brown said the three defendants were motivated by a desire to be close to Smith's money and "high life."

"There is a certain psychic gain here to be part of the cliques of celebrity and the power," he said.

The lawyer for Eroshevich, who treated Smith in the final six months of her life, said the doctor used pseudonyms on prescription forms to ensure the model's privacy from a throng of tabloid reporters and photographers following closely after the birth of her daughter and the death of her son.

Lawyer Adam Braun said the psychiatrist wrote prescriptions for a host of psychotropic drugs in California so she would have medical flexibility in treating Smith in the Bahamas, where she was living at the time. Not all of the medication prescribed was made available to Smith, he said.

A lawyer for Kapoor said the gerontologist, whose practice also includes a pain-management specialty, had done nothing wrong.

"Dr. Kapoor's treatment of Anna Nicole Smith -- despite the publicity and despite the hysteria -- was medically and ethically appropriate," attorney Ellyn Garofalo said.

Stern's attorney did not return a call seeking comment.

In an unrelated development, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Friday declined Stern's request to lift a court order preventing the model's estate from collecting $88.5 million once belonging to Smith's husband, the oil billionaire J. Howard Marshall II. A San Francisco appellate court has stayed distribution of the late Texan's money while sorting out competing claims.

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harriet.ryan@latimes.com

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