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The verdict is in on the most recent legal battle surrounding the late Anna Nicole Smith. In August, three people close to Smith at the time of her death -- her doctor Sandeep Kapoor, psychiatrist Khristine Eroshevich, and lawyer/boyfriend Howard K. Stern -- went on trial for the crime of knowingly supplying drugs to an addict. In other words: Smith's doctors and boyfriend were accused of feeding the addiction that killed her in 2007. And only one of them was found innocent.
On Thursday, Howard K. Stern was found guilty of conspiring to get drugs for Smith by ordering prescriptions under his own name. Eroshevich, the psychiatrist, was found guilty of writing fraudulent prescriptions, as well as supplying addictive drugs to an addict. Both will face sentencing (a maximum of three years) in January. Kapoor, however, is free to go; he was acquitted of all charges.
So: does the "guilty" verdict answer any questions about Anna Nicole's death?
Not really. The official cause of death was accidental overdose, due to the combined effects of nine different prescription drugs. The reason Stern, Eroshevich and Kapoor were on trial is that all those drugs were prescribed by Eroshevich -- even though they should never have been prescribed simultaneously. And eight of them were prescribed in Stern's name. While they were convicted of supplying these drugs, Stern and Eroshevich were cleared on multiple other charges which would have put more responsibility for Smith's death (and up to six more years of jail) on their shoulders.
What happens to Stern and the doctors now is pretty inconsequential, as far as Anna's legacy is concerned. But the case does shed some light on how drug-addicted celebrities can manipulate the people around them to get prescriptions. From the evidence presented, it looks like Anna Nicole maintained a close, even borderline sexual, relationship with both of her doctors. An entry in Dr. Kapoor's private journal, read to the jury, contained this excerpt:
"I was making out with Anna, my patient, blurring the lines. I gave her methadone, Valium. Can she ruin me?"
The jury was also shown "a photo of Smith and Eroschevich naked and embracing in a bathtub." Although both Kapoor and Eroschevich swear that they were providing Smith with necessary drugs, due to her mental problems after the death of her son, they were obviously willing to blur the lines of the doctor-patient relationship and bend standard ethical rules, all for the sake of keeping their celebrity patient happy. Stern, too, put aside his better legal judgement in order to ease Smith's pain. Maybe none of them actually meant any harm. But then again, did Michael Jackson's doctors mean to hurt him? What about Heath Ledger's doctors? If Anne Nicole's psychiatrist gets jail time, maybe that will send the necessary message to celebrity doctors: sometimes, the best way to help is by saying no.
Do you think the doctors who prescribe too many drugs to celebrities should go to jail? Chime in below!