Judge Dismisses Conviction in Anna Nicole Case

Prosecutors went to court asking for probation for Howard K. Stern. Instead, a judge dismisses his conviction

A judge Thursday dismissed the drug conspiracy conviction of Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend Howard K. Stern.

Superior Court Judge Robert Perry found Thursday that Stern never had the intent to defraud when he used his name and others to protect Smith's privacy when he obtained prescriptions for her.

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

"I don't think there's evidence that a layperson knows it's illegal to write a prescription in another name for a celebrity," the judge said.

Prosecutors had asked the judge Thursday morning to sentence Stern and Eroshevich to five years  probation and community service for conspiring to provide prescription  medications to the one-time Playboy Playmate.

After a lengthy trial and 13 days of jury deliberations, Howard K.  Stern, 42, and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, 63, were convicted on Oct. 28.  Stern was convicted of two charges that he conspired to provide  prescription medications to the onetime Playboy Playmate and reality star.  Stern -- who was also Smith's attorney -- was acquitted of seven other charges,  including unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance.

Eroshevich, a psychiatrist who lived next door to Smith in Studio City,  was convicted of two conspiracy charges and one count each of unlawfully  prescribing a controlled substance and unlawfully obtaining a prescription by  giving a false name. Jurors deadlocked on two other counts against the doctor.

A third defendant, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, was acquitted of all six charges  against him.

The three were not charged with Smith's Feb. 8, 2007, accidental drug  overdose death in Florida at age 39.

Perry said in September that he saw weaknesses in the prosecution's case, but felt he had to let the jury decide most of the charges. He said that in the past he had changed verdicts when he did not agree with them.

Prosecutors Asked for Probation Based on Lack of Prior Records

Although Stern and Eroshevich faced up to three years and eight  months in prison, prosecutors asked in a sentencing memorandum filed this week  that they be placed on probation for five years. Prosecutors asked that Stern  be ordered to perform 300 hours of Caltrans work and pay a $5,000 fine.

They asked that Eroshevich be given five years probation, along with 300  hours of community service determined by the California Medical Board and a  $5,000 fine. Prosecutors also asked that Eroshevich be barred for prescribing  certain controlled substances.

"The people believe that based on the defendants' lack of prior  criminal records, and based upon the jury verdicts, that a sentence of  probation is appropriate," Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney wrote in the  sentencing memorandum. "The defendants, however, should be required to pay a  significant find and perform community service to provide a sufficient  deterrent against future criminal conduct, and to provide a general deterrent  to the community at large.''

Attorneys for Stern and Eroshevich filed motions requesting a new  trial and asking that the convictions be either thrown out or reduced to  misdemeanors. The defense contends that doctors regularly use phony names to  obtain prescriptions for celebrities to protect their privacy.

Carney insisted in his papers, however, that the pair were not just  protecting Smith's privacy, but engaged in a pattern of behavior that persisted  for several years and warranted felony convictions.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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