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Reno doctor accused in painkiller ring denied bail

Robert Gene Rand (Photo: Washoe County Jail)

The Latest on a Reno doctor awaiting trial July 25 on charges of conspiring with an illegal opioid ring (all times local PDT):

4:20 p.m.

A Nevada doctor accused of writing a fatal painkiller prescription has been ordered to remain jailed in Reno where he's been held without bail since his arrest in a federal drug raid last April.

A U.S. magistrate refused Tuesday to consider any conditions for Dr. Robert Rand's potential release pending his July 25 trial for his alleged role in an illegal opioid ring.

All eight of Rand's co-defendants already have pleaded guilty to drug charges.

Rand's lawyer argued during a hearing in federal court in Reno Tuesday his yearlong incarceration while presumed innocent is a violation of his due process rights.

Judge Valerie Cooke says the 53-year-old doctor remains a serious flight risk. She says he's an experienced international traveler with access to money and could be looking at decades in prison if he's convicted.

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Lawyers for a Reno doctor accused of conspiring with an illegal opioid ring and writing a painkiller prescription that killed a man say U.S. prosecutors are violating his due process rights by reneging on a deal to allow his release after being jailed for more than a year without bail.

Prosecutors say Dr. Robert Rand's lawyers are misrepresenting the negotiations ahead of his July 25 trial.

It could make for some legal fireworks when the two sides go before a federal judge Tuesday to argue for a fourth time whether Rand is too big of a flight risk to be released on bail under strict conditions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Keller says in an increasingly hostile exchange of court filings that Rand's lawyers are trying "to hold the government hostage."

"Bartering for release is not something the government does," he wrote April 20.

Rand, 53, could face up to life in prison if convicted of three felony counts, including illegally distributing a controlled substance causing death.

He was among nine people arrested a year ago during a raid at a Reno car dealership where federal agents say an illegal painkiller ring allegedly was operating.

The others all have pleaded guilty to drug charges, including Richard "Richie" West III, the alleged ring-leader who managed the Ford dealership owned by West's father. West, who faces a minimum of about six years in prison at his sentencing May 8, says Rand provided the narcotics.

Defense attorneys Jack Fox and John Ohlson say prosecutors approached them in late March with the offer to recommend Rand's release if Rand wouldn't oppose a delay in the trial originally set for April 25.

"Contrary to the assertion of the government, in fact, it was the government that bartered for continuance and now, unconscionably, refuses to recommend Dr. Rand's release from detention," Fox wrote April 27.

Fox said the defense was ready to begin trial April 25 but the offer to allow Rand's release "could not be passed up" because Rand could better assist in his defense out of custody. He wrote that the prosecutors' alleged legal sleight of hand may not be "purposely deceptive"' but is as "noticeable as a goose egg in a hummingbird's nest."

Prosecutors counter the deal was off because Rand's lawyers opposed the trial continuance during an April 11 appearance before U.S. District Judge Miranda Du. They say Rand is trying to "reap the benefits of the government's willingness to recommend release" without following through on a pledge to endorse a delay.

Du granted the delay, but postponed a decision on Rand's release as a separate matter to be determined Tuesday.

Rand's lawyers said their previous agreement to go along with the delay was contingent on Rand's release.

"The government obtained exactly what it wanted -- a continuance," Fox wrote. "It's now attempting to take advantage of the position if finds itself."

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