- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The latest in a federal investigation into a prescription drug-trafficking ring in Reno. All times local (PDT):

6:20 p.m.

A federal judge in Nevada says she needs more time to decide whether the manager of a Reno car dealership raided in a prescription drug-trafficking probe should be released from jail pending his trial.

Richard “Richie” West is among nine people including a Reno doctor charged in connection with what prosecutors say was an illegal painkiller ring that operated for more than three years.

West’s lawyer, David Houston, said Thursday that West is suffering from severe back pain from a lifelong medical condition that can’t be treated at the county jail where he’s being held without bail. He says it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said she has to review the facts further before determining whether conditions could be placed on his release to ensure he shows up for his trial set for July 19.

5 p.m.

The Reno doctor at the center of a federal investigation into a prescription drug-trafficking ring has lost his bid to be released from jail and placed on house arrest pending his trial.

Dr. Robert Rand entered not guilty pleas in U.S. District Court in Reno Thursday to charges accusing him of writing painkiller prescriptions to people who didn’t need them, including one who died from an overdose.

U.S. Magistrate Valerie Cooke ordered him to remain in jail without bond.

Rand’s trial along with eight other alleged co-conspirators is set for July 19. But his lawyer says it likely will be delayed because the case is so complex.

Cooke says the fact that Rand could spend decades in prison if convicted makes him a serious flight risk. She doesn’t believe any conditions could be placed on his release to ensure he shows up in court.

1:30 p.m.

The doctor at the center of an investigation into prescription drug-trafficking in Reno is getting some support from former Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons and former Reno Police Chief Jim Weston.

Both wrote letters on behalf of Dr. Robert Rand before he was scheduled to enter a plea Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court. He’s accused of writing painkiller prescriptions for people who didn’t need them, including one who died from an overdose last fall.

He’s currently being held without bail in the Washoe County jail.

Gibbons and Weston are among two dozen of Rand’s friends, patients, family members and medical colleagues who say he should be released from jail pending his trial. They say he’s an upstanding member of the community who poses no risk to the public and is a very low flight risk.


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