- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The manager of a Reno car dealership arrested in the federal investigation of a prescription drug-trafficking ring has been ordered to remain jailed without bail despite his lawyer’s claim that failure to treat his chronic back pain amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said she refused to set bail for Richard “Richie” West II because he poses a threat to the community and is a significant flight risk given the serious charges that could send him to prison for decades.

A grand jury earlier this month returned a 12-count indictment against West, 39, on drug trafficking, conspiracy and weapons charges.

Among other things, Du pointed to the more than 60 firearms seized from his truck and home, including a loaded .9 millimeter caliber pistol with a silencer and a “combat-like rifle.”

Dr. Robert Rand, who’s accused of writing hundreds of illegal painkiller prescriptions including one that resulted in an overdose death, also has been ordered held without bail pending their trial set for July 19. Seven co-defendants, mostly past and present employees at Jones-West Ford, have been released on their own recognizance.

Du said there’s “no dispute West has strong family and community ties” with no criminal history but there’s also no dispute he’s addicted to the same Oxycodone pills he’s accused of selling, which she said increases the flight risk.

“To his family and friends, West may be a victim of our opiate epidemic; to the grand jury, West conspired with others to traffic in the distribution and sale of opiates for at least the last three years,” Du wrote in a ruling Thursday night.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Keller said West sold pills out of his truck at dealership owned by his father - and sometimes from an office inside the dealership - “while customers were shopping for vehicles.” He said West introduced the co-defendants to Rand, and all were caught in wiretaps on West’s cellphone requesting pills from West.

Federal agents who seized 61 firearms from his home said his bathroom had a “pharmacy-like,” six-foot high cabinetry rack “with a dizzying assortment of opioids - all unlocked and reachable to his children.”

David Houston, West’s lawyer, argued he should be released on strict conditions because the county jail is not equipped to treat his chronic back pain.

West has 39 metal screws “attempting to old his spinal column together,” has undergone nine separate spinal operations and four abdominal surgeries, Houston said. A doctor said in a statement West has to take “three pills of average-strength oxycodone to give him pain relief relative to what one pill would bring for the average pain-riddled patient.”

“To suggest Mrs. West’s condition is adequately treated with a Tylenol pill would be equivalent to suggesting a wildfire can be put out with a garden hose,” Houston said, describing his incarceration as “nothing less than cruel and unusual punishment … similar to torture.”

“Mr. West’s physical condition is so bad that the man can barely walk, much less run,” he said.

Du ordered jail officials to consult with West’s personal physician to develop a proper treatment plan. But she said West’s condition “by no means renders him less of a flight risk.”

Du noted numerous friends, family and colleagues have described West as “good to his word,” with “a heart of gold,” and “strong moral character.”

“However, the charges and public records reveal a different individual who may not be recognizable to Wests’ family and friends,” she wrote.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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