Stern finds vindication in Anna Nicole Smith case

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - After losing Anna Nicole Smith and then a court battle over her estate, Howard K. Stern says a judge’s dismissal of convictions in a prescription drug case vindicates both him and the late Playboy model.

“I loved Anna and I cared for her so much. I have no regrets,” Stern told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday, hours after the court reversed his two conspiracy convictions for using his name on prescriptions for Smith.

“The regrets I have are for what people caused afterward,” he said, referring to multiple legal complications which arose after Smith died of a drug overdose in Florida in February, 2007.

The most agonizing postscript, he said, was the prescription drug abuse charges filed in Los Angeles against Stern, Smith’s psychiatrist Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, Smith’s general physician. He called the months of trial a nightmare.

Prosecutors had argued that Smith was an addict, and the defendants were feeding her addiction rather than providing prescription drugs for any legitimate medical purpose.

But after a long and costly prosecution, Superior Court Judge Robert Perry threw out conspiracy convictions against Stern and Eroshevich on Thursday, allowing one charge against her to remain but reducing it to a misdemeanor. The jury had already acquitted Kapoor of all charges against him.

The judge concluded that Smith was not an addict by legal definition but was rather a woman seeking relief from chronic pain. He said the jury verdicts suggested they agreed.

Perry said Stern clearly did not intend to violate the law when he used his name on drug prescriptions for Smith. The judge said the defendants who used false names for Smith were trying to protect her privacy in a manner used by many celebrities.

Stern praised the ruling as “a huge victory and vindication for Anna and the person she really was, not the person the prosecution tried to portray her as.”

He called the case “a dishonest prosecution with no purpose but to ruin our lives and for their publicity and political gain.”

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley criticized the judge’s decision, saying it “denigrates the substantial investigative efforts conducted by the state Department of Justice and the medical board.” He said he would appeal.

Stern attorney Steve Sadow said his strongest and most unusual defense theme was love.

He told jurors that Smith was the love of Stern’s life and he would never have done anything to hurt her.

He said prosecutors at times portrayed Stern as a Svengali trying to control Smith for money, a claim he said was false.

“The love was a fact,” Sadow said. “It was the truth and all I had to do was sell the true facts to the jury. They had to understand the relationship between Howard and Anna rather than the false and fictitious relationship the prosecution tried to sell. And of course we had the pictures.”

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