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Calif. attorney general: Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend "enabler"

LOS ANGELES - Anna Nicole Smith's lawyer-turned-boyfriend was the principal enablerin a conspiracy with two doctors to provide the "known addict"thousands of prescription pills in the months before she died of anoverdose, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said Friday.

Howard K. Stern and Drs. Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoorwere charged by Los Angeles County prosecutors after a two-yearprobe by the attorney general, state medical and insurance officials andthe Drug Enforcement Administration.

"Doctors do not have a license to pump innocent and often vulnerablepeople full of dangerous chemicals," Brown told a news conference."Somebody died here, and this is bad business."

In addition to conspiracy, the charges filed Thursday include unlawfully prescribing acontrolled substance and prescribing, administering or dispensing acontrolled substance to an addict.

Stern faces six felony counts and the doctors face seven each.

Each defendant faces up to five years, eight months in prison, districtattorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.

"Howard K. Stern is the principal enabler, and Dr. Eroshevich andDr. Kapoor are prescribing drugs excessively to a known addict andusing false and fictitious names, all in violation of the law," Brown said.

Medical Board of California spokeswoman Candis Cohen said actionwould be taken against the two doctors' medical licenses after thecriminal proceedings had been resolved. A range of disciplinary actioncould be taken, depending on the evidence, including possible revocationof their licenses.

Smith's life had become a tabloid fixture by the time she died Feb. 8,2007, in Florida. Embroiled in a battle to inherit millions of dollars fromher late billionaire husband's estate, her own son had died shortly aftershe gave birth to a girl.

Asked what may have been the motive for the alleged conspiracy,Brown suggested the potent allure of wealth and glamour.

"There's a certain psychic gain here, part of the glitz and the celebrityand the power. There's a lot of money floating around," he said. "Is itself-indulgence? Is it some power trip? Is it just getting some contacthigh off of celebrity? That remains to be seen."

Stern and Kapoorturned themselves in Thursday night and each posted $20,000 bond.Eroshevich was expected to surrender Monday.

Her attorney, Adam Braun, acknowledged Eroshevich wrote some ofthe prescriptions using fictitious names for Smith, but asserted it was forprivacy reasons and not intended to commit fraud.

Braun said Eroshevich began treating Smith in September 2006 whenshe suffered a nervous breakdown stemming from the death of her20-year-old son, Daniel Smith, from an accidental drug overdose threedays after his mother gave birth to a girl.

Brown declined to comment when asked if there was a trail leading toDaniel Smith from doctors in California, nor did he comment on whetherother individuals may face charges.

"We have given you the evidence that we think is ready for theprosecution," he said.

Eroshevich, who was Smith's psychiatrist, traveled several times oversix months to the Bahamas, where Smith was living with Stern andwrote the prescriptions.

The criminal complaint also alleges Kapoor gave her excessiveamounts of sleep aids, opiates, muscle relaxants and methadone-likedrugs used to treat addiction, knowing she was an addict. Kapoor sawSmith in the spring of 2006 when she was treated at a Los AngelesCounty hospital for opiate withdrawal and prenatal care for thepregnancy of her daughter Dannielynn, according to the complaint.

Stern's attorney L. Lin Wood said he anticipated releasing astatement about the case sometime Friday.

Kapoor's attorney, Ellyn Garofalo, said the charges were withoutmerit.

"I was surprised that after all this time, these charges surfacedsuddenly like they did," she said. "They are attempting to imposecriminal penalties against a doctor who acted in good faith and providedthe best medical care he was able to under the circumstances. If not forthe fact this was Anna Nicole, I don't think these charges would havebeen filed."

Garofalo said her client specialized in gerontology and hadinherited Smith as a patient when he took over the medical practice ofher former doctor in Los Angeles about five years ago.

Smith was found unconscious in her room at the Seminole Hard RockHotel and Casino near Hollywood, Fla. The former Playboy centerfoldand Guess jeans model died the same day at a hospital.Her death was ruled an accidental drug overdose.

Aside from her time in the pages of Playboy, Smith gained notorietyfor her marriage to J. Howard Marshall II, the Texas oil billionaire 63years her senior whom she met while dancing at a Houston club. Thepair married in 1994; she was 26, he was 89, and Marshall died thefollowing year.

In 2002, Smith debuted her own reality TV show -- the tagline forwhich was "she's so outrageous" -- in which cameras followed herthrough her daily life, often showing her in incoherent states. The starstruggled with her weight and in 2003 became a spokeswoman forTrimSpa diet pills.

Stern originally claimed to be the father of Smith's daughter,Dannielynn, but it was later established through a paternity test thatphotographer Larry Birkhead is the dad.

Jean Rosenbluth, a law professor at the University of SouthernCalifornia, said prosecutors likely would have considered a range ofcharges including more serious ones.

They probably settled on the current charges, she said, becauseproving more serious allegations would have meant they needed to showmalicious intent -- something that may or may not have been present.

"The intent is always going to be key," she said. "Was it always aboutmaking money, was it completely reckless and indifferent, or was theresome, no matter how misguided, non-nefarious reason the defendanttook the action?"

Loyola University Law School professor LaurieLevenson said prosecutors may have chosen not to file manslaughter ormurder charges because "they did not establish exactly what caused herdeath. ... It's hard to say who is accountable for an accidentaloverdose."

Brown, who is contemplating a run for governor next year,used his time at the podium to denounce abuse of prescription drugs andthe "growing threat" from "people in white smocks in pharmacies ...with their medical degrees."

"Doctors do not have a license to pumpinnocent and often vulnerable people full of dangerous chemicals," hesaid. "These cocktails of methadone and antidepressants and sleepingpills and Xanax -- you put all that into a cocktail, it explodes."

Arraignments had been set for May 13, he said.

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