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Anna Nicole's lawyer faces more charges

September 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
More charges have been filed against the lawyer and former boyfriend of Anna Nicole Smith.Prosecutors claim Howard K. Stern helped obtain the prescription drugs that led to the former Playboy Playmate's death.

Stern was charged with five more felony counts in an amended complaint filed by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office Wednesday, bringing the total number of charges against him to 11.

Smith was found unconscious in a Florida hotel room on Feb. 8, 2007, and died a short time later. The medical examiner determined it was an accidental overdose. It appeared Smith had taken hundreds of pills just before she died.

The new charges against Stern include accusations he helped obtain prescriptions for opiates by using a false name. Doctors Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich have already been charged with improperly prescribing the drugs that killed Smith.

All three pleaded not guilty in May to conspiring to illegally provide Smith with controlled substances. They re-entered their pleas Wednesday to the amended complaint.

The doctors each face six counts including conspiracy, and up to five years, eight months in prison if convicted. It was not clear what sentence Stern would face if convicted, Los Angeles County district attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison said.

Search warrant affidavits suggest Stern put his name on prescriptions for opiates that were given to Smith, and claim that 44 different medications were prescribed for Smith under a number of other names, including Stern's.

Outside court, Stern's attorney blasted the additional charges, saying they were filed because prosecutors realized their case against him was weak.

"They are using a shotgun approach," Steve Sadow said. "They are throwing everything at him to see what sticks, and nothing will stick."

Prosecutors say they had made a clerical error in omitting the five counts.

"The idea, to be perfectly candid, that this is some clerical omission is total B.S. I'll say that again, total B.S.," added Sadow.

Sadow said his client is innocent of all charges.

"Under the law -- California criminal law -- Anna Nicole Smith was not an addict," said Sadow. "The medication given to her by her doctors was for pain management."

Prosecutors say Stern seemed to acknowledge Smith was in danger during a conversation with Dr. Kapoor. Court documents show he and Kapoor talked about "weaning Anna Smith off Dilaudid," a habit-forming painkiller.

Stern says Smith was pregnant and didn't want to hurt the baby.

"So she had to be weaned off it prior to the birth, which was September 7th of 2006, which in fact took place and the baby Dannielynn was born drug free," said Sadow.

Stern and Kapoor were ordered to provide handwriting samples to compare with evidence.

A preliminary hearing is set for October 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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