Judge dismisses conviction of Howard K. Stern
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A judge Thursday dismissed the drug conspiracy convictions of the late Anna Nicole Smith’s boyfriend-lawyer Howard K. Stern and her psychiatrist, allowing only one conviction to remain against the physician and reducing it to a misdemeanor.
Perry also found that psychiatrist Khristine Eroshevich was acting out of concern for Smith and cited her long career and service to the community in deciding to sentence her to no more than one year of probation and a $100 fine for obtaining one Vicodin prescription under a false name.
Perry said he considered the jury verdicts “a strong repudiation of the prosecution’s case,” which he described as overly complicated and not supported by sufficient evidence.
“There is no doubt that there are doctors who are nothing more than pill pushers and should be prosecuted and imprisoned,” Perry said. “This case did not involve such doctors.”
District Attorney Steve Cooley said he would appeal the ruling.
“His decision denigrates the substantial investigative efforts conducted by the state Department of Justice and the medical board,” Cooley said. “It diminishes the huge social problem of prescription drug abuse facilitated by irresponsible caretakers and unscrupulous medical professionals.”
Perry said in his lengthy remarks from the bench that the state Legislature has expressed concern about under-treatment of pain patients with opiates because of doctors’ concerns about prosecution.
The judge, citing testimony about Smith’s quest for pain relief, said, “I certainly believed she was not an addict under the law.”
Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, who was previously acquitted of all charges by the jury, sat in the audience with his lawyer. He said he came to support his co-defendants.
The ruling marked the denouement of a long-running drama centering on the blonde beauty’s troubled life, which was documented on reality TV, in tabloids and in trial testimony. Smith also made headlines in a continuing $300 million court fight with the estate of her oil tycoon husband.