A Los Angeles judge on Friday reduced a remaining conspiracy conviction against the late Anna Nicole Smith’s psychiatrist to a misdemeanor and determined that she has already served a probationary sentence.
Dr. Khristine Eroshevich was convicted in 2010 of conspiring to provide prescription drugs to the reality television star, who died of an accidental drug overdose in Florida on Feb. 8, 2007.
During sentencing, Judge Robert J. Perry dismissed three of Eroshevich’s four convictions — including two conspiracy counts. He sentenced her to a year of probation and a $100 fine for her sole remaining conviction — unlawfully obtaining a prescription by using a false name.
A state appeals court panel in 2012 overturned Perry’s decision and reinstated most of the convictions against the 67-year-old Eroshevich. According to the panel, Perry could grant her a new trial or potentially dismiss the charges.
In court Friday, Perry dismissed one of the conspiracy counts and knocked the other down to a misdemeanor, finding that Eroshevich had completed the previously imposed year of probation.
The judge also noted that since her conviction, Eroshevich has taken medical ethics courses and her practice has been monitored.
Perry said that in obtaining prescription drugs for Smith, Eroshevich’s intent was not to cause harm, but to “help Anna Nicole Smith deal with the physical issues she was dealing with.”
However, Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney characterized the psychiatrist’s actions in the context of cases involving celebrities whose doctors “prescribe anything and everything their patients want.”
Carney said “the extreme amounts of narcotics and other drugs” Eroshevich prescribed for Smith unquestionably “damaged her health,” and to reduce the conspiracy charge to a misdemeanor “sends the wrong message.”
Howard K. Stern, Smith’s longtime companion, was convicted of conspiracy alongside Eroshevich. Perry subsequently threw out Stern’s two conspiracy convictions, citing insufficient evidence.
In reinstating Stern’s conviction on the conspiracy counts, the appeals panel ruled that Perry erred by finding insufficient evidence in Stern’s case.
The case was sent back for Perry to either reconsider Stern’s motion for a new trial, find other grounds for dismissal or sentence him to prison or probation based on the original convictions. Perry set a June 12 motions hearing in Stern’s case.
The appellate panel noted, however, that due to the issue of double jeopardy, Stern cannot be retried. If Perry grants Stern’s motion for a new trial, “the case must be dismissed on double jeopardy grounds,” according to the panel’s ruling.
Stern and Eroshevich were convicted after jurors spent 13 days considering the case against them.
Stern — who was also Smith’s attorney — was acquitted of seven other charges, including unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance.
Jurors deadlocked on two counts against Eroshevich, a psychiatrist who lived next door to Smith in Studio City.
A third doctor, Sandeep Kapoor, was acquitted of all six charges against him.
The three defendants were not charged with Smith’s accidental drug overdose death at age 39.
During the sentencing hearing for Stern and Eroshevich, Perry criticized prosecutors, saying the trial verdicts — in which the most serious charges were rejected by the jury — were “a stunning repudiation of the prosecution.”
Perry said that while doctors who doubled as “pill pushers” were an ongoing societal problem, “this case did not involve such doctors.”
He also said the trial revealed a “misunderstanding” of conspiracy law on the part of the prosecutors.
“The jury probably got it right,” Perry said at today’s hearing. “I stand by my rulings.”
—City News Service
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