03/13/2009 AT 3:25 PM ET
Three people took part in the conspiracy to funnel powerful drugs that fed Anna Nicole Smith’s addiction, California’s attorney general, Jerry Brown, alleges.
But one was singled out by Brown as the alleged “principal enabler:” Smith’s boyfriend and lawyer, Howard K. Stern.
“This was done knowingly and this was done with tragic consequences,” Brown told a news conference a day after felony charges were filed against Stern, 40, and two doctors, Sandeep Kapoor, 40, and Khristine Eroshevich, 61.
“This was a conspiracy between three individuals,” Brown said, adding that Stern was “the one that brought the drugs in many cases to Anna Nicole Smith.”
Hundreds of Drugs
The state’s top prosecutor alleged hundreds of dangerous drugs were prescribed under false names, leading to Smith’s death in February 2007. He said prosecutors will show that Stern and the doctors had to know that Smith was addicted to harmful drugs because she took so many drugs that had addictive properties and toxic side effects.
Brown suggested Smith’s untimely death, and this prosecution, should send a message that pharmacists and doctors can be just as dangerous as street-corner drug dealers.
“I’m very concerned about this indulgence by society,” says Brown. “People think those drug dealers on the street corner are the only threat. People in white smocks in pharmacies and with medical degrees are a growing threat, and that’s what this prosecution is all about.”
Friend Defends Stern
Neither Stern nor the two doctors could be reached for comment. Ron Rale, a close friend and former law partner of Stern’s and a pall bearer at Smith’s funeral, said the charges are baseless. “Knowing Anna and Howard personally, I know that the charges are unfounded,” Rale tells PEOPLE. “Jerry Brown using taxpayer dollars for this at this time would make Anna Nicole roll over in her grave.”
Adam Braun, an attorney for Eroshevich, told reporters that the psychiatrist used false names on prescriptions to protect her patient from the media.
But Brown said that, after a two-year investigation that involved hundreds of interviews, and tens of thousands of computer records here and abroad, he concluded that the pseudonyms were part of a criminal conspiracy to hide from authorities the toxic amount of drugs Smith was taking.
Fake Names for Prescriptions
“The use of a fictitious name in itself is one thing,” Brown says. “The use of a fictitious name to give excessive amounts – and we’re not talking a few dozen, we’re talking hundreds and hundreds of medications – was done not so much to conceal them from the paparazzi but to conceal from authorities the true nature of what was going on: an abusive and illegal pattern that is unconscionable, unprofessional and clearly illegal.”
According to the charging documents, the three provided Smith with “opiates, benzodiazepines, and other controlled and non-controlled substances.”
Stern and Kapoor were booked and released Thursday night; Eroshevich is said to be planning to turn herself in on Monday. All three are due for arraignment May 13.
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