New and big developments in federal drug case involving Rand, West Jr.
There are new and significant developments in the high-profile federal case involving nine defendants including Reno Family Care physician Dr. Robert Rand and Richie West Jr.
In two separate hearings, federal District Judge Miranda Du made several important decisions. She set a trial date, and she also refused, again, to release West Jr. from the Washoe County Jail pending his trial.
In the first hearing, she set a trial date of April 25, 2017, for all defendants facing charges of conspiracy and illegally distributing prescription drugs. The federal prosecutor noted there may be only two to three defendants that might actually stand trial, signaling potential plea agreements with the others.
Rand's attorney, John Ohlson, argued his client should be tried separately on a charge involving the death of a patient prescribed narcotics under Rand's care. The judge will hold another hearing to decide whether to separate out the death charge against Rand. Ohlson said he was hoping that separate trial would happen this fall.
After the hearing, Ohlson explained a recently released affidavit through the U.S. Attorneys Office paints a distorted view of the charges and federal case against the defendants. He said the document states, "Currently under investigation are approximately 60 other deaths of former patients of Dr. Rand who were prescribed narcotics by Dr. Rand to determine whether any of these deaths resulted from the use of a drug prescribed illicitly by Dr. Rand." It goes on to state, "Several of the deaths of those prescribed narcotics by Dr. Rand appear suspicious at this time."
Ohlson said, "We do know after that affidavit claim was made alleging 60 deaths, the Grand Jury returned an indictment accusing one death."
In the second hearing, attorneys for West Jr. argued for the release of their client on the ground West Jr. was not receiving adequate medical care in the Washoe County Jail. West Jr. was hospitalized a few weeks ago after a jail doctor admitted he gave West Jr. an overdose of methadone during treatment of chronic pain at the jail.
That physician was under contract through NaphCare. It was revealed he was terminated from his employment soon after that revelation. Testimony indicated the company's regional director is now filling in as the jail's doctor until a replacement is hired.
West Jr.'s attorneys argued due to the circumstances, the regional director is at the Washoe County Jail two days out of seven. They tried to show that was not adequate care. They also tried to point out West Jr. presents as a complicated medical case requiring specific care to treat his chronic pain.
Testimony also centered around a narcotic patch prescribed to administer pain medication at certain doses, at certain intervals. However, testimony also revealed the patch was not used due to security issues at the jail, and instead West Jr. is now receiving an oral narcotic pain medication, which the judge determined may not be optimal but it is adequate.
West Jr.'s attorney, David Houston, had hoped his client would be released to the custody of his parents. They were willing to pay for the same security that is also contracted by the U.S. Marshals Office. But Judge Du said that amounted to a disparity by allowing those who could afford such security to be released from jail.
She also noted that West Jr.'s condition seems to have stabilized following his hospitalization. The decision frustrated his attorney. David Houston said, "I have never seen anybody in my whole career detained as vigorously as Richie West, and I've had guys with prior felonies, accused of violent crimes that were released."