LOS ANGELES — Prosecutors in the Anna Nicole Smith prescription drug case are urging a judge to choose felony probation, community service and fines rather than prison for her psychiatrist and lawyer-boyfriend convicted of obtaining drugs for her under false names.
On the eve of their scheduled sentencing, lawyers for Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and Howard K. Stern want something different. They are asking to have their clients’ convictions reduced to misdemeanours or dismissed in the interest of justice.
They argue in written motions that using pseudonyms to protect the privacy of celebrities in medical situations is common practice. They accuse the district attorney’s office of singling out the doctor and lawyer for prosecution “for political and publicity purposes, not justice.”
Superior Court Judge Robert Perry, who presided over their nine-week trial, has the option to sentence them to up to three years and eight months behind bars.
In a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney advocated sentencing both defendants to five years of supervised felony probation, 300 hours each of community service, with Stern working for Caltrans, California’s highway maintenance department. The memo suggested Eroshevich’s community service be directed by the California Medical Board and that each defendant pay a $5,000 fine.
Carney also asked that Eroshevich be barred from prescribing controlled substances, severely limiting her ability to continue practising medicine.
Stern and Eroshevich are seeking dismissal, a new trial or reduction of their convictions to misdemeanours. A third defendant, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, was acquitted of all charges and the jury deadlocked on several counts.
Stern’s attorneys, Steve Sadow and J. Christopher Smith, noted in written motions that Stern was convicted of only two of 11 counts involving conspiring with Eroshevich to use his name on prescriptions for Smith.
“The evidence proved that Mr. Stern honestly believed the practice was legal,” said the motion, which noted past use of false names on prescriptions for celebrities including the late Michael Jackson and actress Brittany Murphy. It said their doctors were never charged with violating the false names statute.
The sentencing hearing will mark the denouement of a long-running drama centring 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.
Stern, 41, had been Smith’s lawyer, manager, lover and friend since they met in 2001. Testimony showed they were inseparable, even when she was involved with other men.