Anna Nicole Smith’s lawyer-turned-boyfriend was the principal enabler in a conspiracy with two doctors to provide the “known addict” thousands of prescription pills in the months before she died of an overdose, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said.
Howard K. Stern and Drs Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor were charged by Los Angeles County prosecutors after a two-year probe by the attorney general, state medical and insurance officials and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Doctors do not have a license to pump innocent and often vulnerable people full of dangerous chemicals,” Mr Brown told a news conference. “Somebody died here, and this is bad business.”
In addition to conspiracy, the charges filed Thursday include unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance and prescribing, administering or dispensing a controlled 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, district attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.
“Howard K. Stern is the principal enabler, and Dr Eroshevich and Dr Kapoor are prescribing drugs excessively to a known addict and using false and fictitious names, all in violation of the law,” Mr Brown said.
Medical Board of California spokeswoman Candis Cohen said action would be taken against the two doctors’ medical licences after the criminal proceedings had been resolved. A range of disciplinary action could be taken, depending on the evidence, including possible revocation of their licenses.
Smith’s life had become a tabloid fixture by the time she died February 8, 2007, in Florida. Embroiled in a battle to inherit millions of dollars from her late billionaire husband’s estate, her own son had died shortly after she gave birth to a girl.
Asked what may have been the motive for the alleged conspiracy, Mr Brown suggested the potent allure of wealth and glamour.
“There’s a certain psychic gain here, part of the glitz and the celebrity and the power. There’s a lot of money floating around,” he said. “Is it self-indulgence? Is it some power trip? Is it just getting some contact high off of celebrity? That remains to be seen.”
Stern and Kapoor turned themselves in Thursday night and each posted $20,000 bond. Eroshevich was expected to surrender on Monday.