LOS ANGELES - An attorney for Anna Nicole Smith's lawyer-turned-boyfriend lashed out at prosecutors on Tuesday, calling the prescription drug case involving his client and two doctors misguided and overreaching.
Steve Sadow, a lawyer from Atlanta, said outside court that the charges against Howard K. Stern are baseless and added that his client wouldn't have done anything to hurt Smith, who died of a drug overdose two years ago.
"Howard loved Anna Nicole with all of his heart and would never have done anything intentional to harm her," Sadow said without taking questions from reporters.
Stern and Drs. Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor face charges they conspired to provide prescription drugs to the former Playboy model before her accidental overdose death in February 2007 at a Florida hotel.
Stern, 40, and Eroshevich, 61, made their first court appearance Tuesday, but Superior Court Commissioner Kristi Lousteau rescheduled their arraignments to May 13. Kapoor is also scheduled to be arraigned May 13. All three are free on bond.
Sadow criticized the two-year probe by the state attorney general, state medical and insurance officials and the Drug Enforcement Administration. He said California Attorney General Jerry Brown has "maliciously and viciously labelled Anna a drug addict knowing full well that it's legally unsupportable" under California law.
Sadow suggested the attorney general filed the case merely to advance his political career. Brown, a Democrat who served two terms as governor beginning in 1974, is considering another run for governor next year.
"Brown should simply be ashamed of himself," he said. "Brown, not Howard K. Stern, is the real enabler in this misguided and unprecedented prosecution."
Brown called the accusations "silly" and "completely out of line."
"The fact is that the Bureau of Narcotics, the DEA, the state Board of Medical Examiners and the Los Angeles district attorney have all validated this prosecution," Brown said in a telephone interview. "These are serious violations of the law, this is an extensive professional investigation."
Brown held a press conference last month to announce the charges, which were actually filed by county prosecutors.
"Anna Nicole was dead from multiple chemicals put into her body. That's the tragedy and for the defence lawyers to try to exploit that for their own purposes is shocking," Brown said.
"These people are whistling in the dark if they think this accusatory rhetoric is going to save them," he said.
Stern, Eroshevich and Kapoor, each face six counts including conspiracy. Each defendant faces up to five years, eight months in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors allege Stern was the principal enabler in a conspiracy with the two doctors to provide Smith, 39, thousands of prescription pills between June 2004 and January 2007, just weeks before her death.
Medical examiners have said Eroshevich, a Los Angeles psychiatrist and friend of Smith, authorized all 11 of the prescription medications found in her hotel room.
Eroshevich's attorney, Adam Braun, has said Eroshevich began treating Smith in September 2006 when she suffered a nervous breakdown stemming from the death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel Smith, who died of an accidental drug overdose three days after his mother gave birth to a girl.
Outside court, Braun said he hopes that all the facts of the investigation will be made public to show that Eroshevich's treatment of Smith were "all done with the best interest of the patient in mind."
"Dr. Khristine Eroshevich had two choices," Braun said. "To turn her back on her patient or do her best under some difficult circumstances. She chose the latter."
Sadow added Smith was in control of her life and made her own decisions.
"No one told her what to do or when to do it. She was her own person," Sadow said.