- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

RENO, Nev. (AP) - A federal judge rejected an unusual offer Wednesday from the son of a prominent Reno family to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in private security costs so as to allow his release from jail on house arrest pending his trial next year on prescription drug-trafficking charges.

Richard “Richie” West II, 38, formerly managed - and his father owns - the Jones-West Ford dealership where prosecutors say West and eight others operated an illicit painkiller ring.

His lawyers argued that posting an armed guard at the home would alleviate any concerns about his flight risk or public safety, while at the same time addressing their own complaints about inadequate medical care at the Washoe County jail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Keller said it was an improper attempt to “buy his release.”

“This is a situation where the defendant has the means to afford private security,” Keller said. “This is really just a request to go home pending trial.”

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du ordered West returned to jail without bail pending a trial now tentatively set to begin April 25.

She put off a decision on whether to expedite the trial for a Reno physician, Dr. Robert Rand, accused of providing West and others with oxycodone and other painkillers that prosecutors say resulted in at least one overdose death.

“He believes if he can get to trial, he’ll be acquitted,” said John Ohlson, Rand’s attorney who is pressing for a separate, earlier trial on the charge of causing the death of another.

Du reaffirmed previous rulings by herself and two U.S. magistrates who rejected proposals to release West on bail. She repeated her belief Wednesday there are no adequate conditions that could be placed on his release, given the weapons and drug charges he faces, and a history of addiction to the same opioids he’s accused of distributing.

Michael Kennedy, one of West’s lawyers, said they were working to arrange for the posting of a 24-hour guard through the same security firm the U.S. Marshal’s Service contracts with to ensure custody of inmates outside of jails and prisons.

Michael Lafrieda, director of operations and security for Martin-Ross Associates, testified Wednesday they had not negotiated a price, but that such guards typically cost between $40 and $50 per hour. That bill would total approximately $300,000 or more between now and April.

Kennedy urged the release of West to his parents’ home where he could receive private medical care and be monitored by a GPS ankle bracelet under the constant watch of the guard. West’s father, Richard, has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

“He’d be a minimal flight risk at the home of his parents, who have a lot to lose in this community if he were to run, and have security there to make sure he stays there,” Kennedy said.

Du told Kennedy, “It’s a rather unusual proposal, don’t you think?”

Kennedy said he didn’t believe it would provide West special treatment not available to less-wealthy inmates any more than would setting a high bail that some can afford and others cannot.

Rand, who’s accused of writing hundreds of illegal painkiller prescriptions, also is being held without bail pending the trial. Seven other co-defendants, mostly past and present employees at Jones-West Ford, have been released on their own recognizance.

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