Howard K. Stern, the former attorney and lover of the late Anna Nicole Smith, could be jailed for his two 2010 conspiracy convictions after a state appellate court panel overturned his acquittal on Thursday.
The 43-year-old was convicted for conspiracy to use fake names and false pretenses to acquire prescription drugs on Oct. 28, 2010, although three months later on Jan. 6, 2011, a trial judge threw out Stern's convictions due to lack of evidence. He was subsequently cleared of all felony charges connected to Smith's prescription drug use.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal has reinstated Stern's convictions, however. Presiding Justice Paul Turner stated that there was evidence that Stern "knowingly participated in conduct designed to avoid detection and scrutiny," and that he was aware that 39-yearold Smith acquired prescriptions made out to other names, according to E! Online.
"His knowledge and involvement was such the jury could reasonably conclude Mr. Stern, a lawyer, knowingly participated in the ongoing illegal practice of securing illegal prescriptions," Turner explained.
It is unclear what exactly the trial judge will do next, although TMZ.com claims that the judge ultimately has four options: he could sentence Stern to prison; sentence him to probation; reduce the felonies to misdemeanors; or dismiss the case in its entirety on other legal grounds.
Smith, who is no stranger to legal woes, remained at the forefront of a media frenzy surrounding both her family and legal issues in the months leading up to her death.
The mother of two was renowned for her erratic behavior, which always garnered media attention. But it was the sudden death of her 20-year-old son Daniel and the paternity and custodial fight over her newborn daughter Dannielynn that made her a national sensation.
Less than six months after Daniel's death and less than one year after the birth of Dannielynn, Smith was found dead, and Her death was ruled an accidental drug overdose. She had reportedly consumed a cocktail of prescription drugs which, when combined, ultimately became lethal.
Stern received widespread criticism for his role in Smith's death, with many fans even placing the blame on him. He is yet to publicly address the court's recent ruling.