California serves warrants in Anna Nicole's death

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LOS ANGELES, Oct 12 (Reuters) California state investigators searched the homes and offices of a number of doctors who prescribed drugs or provided medical treatment to model Anna Nicole Smith before her sudden death in February.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown told a news conference that no arrests were made and declined to say which doctors were involved.

But the state medical board said earlier this year that it was investigating at least two physicians in connection with Smith's death. One of them, Dr Khristine Eroshevich, a psychiatrist, had prescribed all 11 of the drugs found in her Florida hotel room after her death.

A lawyer for Eroshevich, Gary Lincenberg, acknowledged that state authorities executed a search warrant ''into the question of whether or not (her) prescriptions were in accordance with California law.'' But he added, ''This has nothing to do with whether or not (she) in any way contributed to'' Smith's death.

Brown said the unspecified number of search warrants were executed -- media reports put the number at eight -- as part of a criminal investigation ''to flush out the circumstances surrounding the death of Anna Nicole Smith.'' The former Playboy magazine model died age 39 of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in February, about six months after the birth of her daughter and the mysterious death of her adult son, both in the Bahamas.

Smith first made headlines in 1994 by marrying billionaire oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall when she was 26 and he was 89.

Marshall, with a fortune worth an estimated 1.6 billion dollars, died 14 months later, triggering a battle between Smith and his family over his estate that has still not been resolved.

Medical authorities in Florida in April released a list of powerful sedatives, anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxants, anti-seizure drugs, diuretics and antibiotics prescribed by Eroshevich in the five weeks before Smith's death.

Smith was found unresponsive in her hotel room in Hollywood, Florida, on February 8 and pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly afterward.

In what seemed to be a bizarre coincidence, celebrity Web site TMZ.com reported that Smith's close friend, Howard K Stern, was at the home of Eroshevich when the officials arrived there to conduct a search. Stern, who was Smith's lawyer as well as her long-time companion, was simply picking up his dogs from the house at the time, his spokesman said.

Other reports said that another of Smith's physicians previously under investigation by the state medical board, Dr Sandeep Kapoor, was served with a search warrant on Friday.

Brown said searches were conducted at ''various doctors' offices, billing locations and residences'' in Southern California, all ''related to doctors who provided medical treatment or prescribed drugs'' for Smith or her associates.

Brown would not say what charges those under investigation might eventually face. He said the California Department of Justice investigators had reviewed over 100,000 computer images and other documents and interviewed witnesses around the United States and abroad as part of the probe.

Reuters DKS VP0135

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