Page last updated at 07:01 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Charges over Anna Nicole drug use

Anna Nicole Smith in a Feb 2006 file photo
Ms Smith died of a prescription drug overdose in 2007 aged 39

Two doctors and the former boyfriend of late Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith have been charged with conspiring to give her prescription drugs.

Howard Stern, a long-term boyfriend, Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich are alleged to have fraudulently prescribed her thousands of pills.

Ms Smith, 39, died of a prescription drug overdose in 2007. An investigation ruled that the death was accidental.

The charges relate to prescriptions issued from June 2004 to January 2007.

Prosecutors say that for years the three accused provided Ms Smith with thousands of prescription drugs, including the medicines found in the Florida hotel room where she died.

These individuals repeatedly and excessively furnished thousands of prescription pills to Anna Nicole Smith, often for no legitimate medical purpose
Edmund G Brown
California attorney general

They are each charged with conspiracy and several charges of unlawfully prescribing opiates and other controlled substances.

Prosecutors said the doctors gave the drugs to Mr Stern, who then gave them to Ms Smith.

California Attorney General Edmund G Brown said in a statement: "These individuals repeatedly and excessively furnished thousands of prescription pills to Anna Nicole Smith, often for no legitimate medical purpose."

He said the doctors had "violated their ethical obligations as physicians, while Mr Stern funnelled highly addictive drugs to Ms Smith".

After Ms Smith's death, police cleared those around her of any wrongdoing. A medical examiner's investigation ruled that her death was an accidental overdose.

The BBC's Rajesh Mirchandani in Los Angeles says this is the latest twist in the highly public saga of Ms Smith's life.

Aged 26, the former topless model married Texas oil tycoon J Howard Marshall, a billionaire more than 60 years her senior.

She was accused of being a money-grabber and, after his death in 1995, spent years fighting his family over his fortune, winning and losing millions.

Her death in February 2007 triggered legal battles in the US and the Bahamas over control of her body and the paternity of her child, who stood to inherit millions of dollars.

Mr Stern initially claimed to be the father, before renouncing custody when DNA tests proved that the father was Ms Smith's ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead.

Court battles over her money continue, and now there are new questions about some of the people closest to her in the last few years of her troubled life, our correspondent adds.

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