Howard K. Stern
A judge dismissed the two conspiracy felony charges against Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend-lawyer Howard K. Stern on Thursday, ruling that there was no evidence he intended fraud when he got drugs for the late star under fake names, The Associated Press reports.
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Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry also dismissed the two conspiracy charges against Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, Smith's psychiatrist, and reduced a charge against her of unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance to a misdemeanor. Citing Eroshevich's long career and her concern for Smith, Perry sentenced her to no more than one year of probation and a $100 fine for obtaining one Vicodin prescription under a false name.
"The evidence is that Howard Stern did not have an intent to break the law," Perry said, adding that without Stern's participation, there was no conspiracy between him and Eroshevich. "There is no doubt that there are doctors who are nothing more than pill pushers and should be prosecuted and imprisoned. This case did not involve such doctors."
Jury convicts Howard K. Stern in Anna Nicole Smith drug trial
The third defendant, Dr. Sandeep Kappor, was previously acquitted of all charges.
Citing testimony about Smith's requests for pain relief, Perry said he believed the former model was not an addict under the law. Smith died of an accidental drug overdose in 2007 at age 39.
A jury convicted Stern and Eroshevich in October. Perry had previously said that he saw weaknesses in the prosecution's case, but felt he had to let the jury decide most of the charges.
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District Attorney Steve Cooley said he would appeal Perry's 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."
Stern and Eroshevich said after the hearing that they were pleased with the ruling and believed Smith would be happy.
"I was looking up in the sky and thinking, she's vindicated," Stern said. "This case never should have been brought. It has been four years of my life."