Judge orders doctor accused in drug ring to remain in jail

RENO — A judge ordered a Nevada doctor accused of writing a fatal painkiller prescription to remain jailed without bail on Tuesday, rejecting claims his constitutional rights have been violated in the year he’s been held since his arrest in a federal drug raid,

U.S. Magistrate Valerie Cooke refused to consider any conditions for the potential release of Dr. Robert Rand of Reno pending his July 25 trial for his alleged role as a co-conspirator in an illegal opioid ring.

“The court remains convinced this defendant poses a risk of flight,” Cooke said. She said he’s an experienced international traveler with access to money and could be looking at decades in prison if he’s convicted.

All eight of Rand’s co-defendants arrested last April already have pleaded guilty to drug charges in plea-bargain arrangements.

Rand’s lawyers argued during a hearing in U.S. District Court that his yearlong incarceration while presumed innocent is a violation of his right to due process guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

“He not only is cloaked in innocence, he has no criminal history. His worst offenses were two speeding tickets,” defense attorney Jack Fox said. “He has lost his medical practice. He has lost his reputation … He missed his child’s first steps.”

It marked the fourth time since his arrest that a judge has refused Rand’s request to set bail for his release.

In court filings before Tuesday’s hearing, Fox and co-counsel John Ohlson accused federal prosecutors of reneging on a deal to allow his release under strict conditions.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney James Keller told Cooke that agreement “was never finalized.” And the judge said it didn’t matter anyway.

“I’m not automatically going to rubber-stamp whatever agreement you and the government might have reached,” Cooke told Fox. “It ultimately is not your call. It is up to the court.”

Rand, 53, was indicted last May on charges accusing him of writing prescriptions for Oxycodone and other painkillers for people who didn’t need them, including Michael Yenick, a former University of Nevada football player who died in October 2015.

If convicted, he could face 10 years in prison or more on each of three felony counts, including distributing a controlled substance causing death.

Rand and the eight others originally were arrested on charges accusing them of conspiring to operate a pill mill out of Rand’s family practice and a Reno car dealership.

Fox said he expects prosecutors eventually will drop the conspiracy charge against Rand.

“The other eight pleaded guilty, and properly so,” Fox told the judge Tuesday. “Each of the eight swore to tell the truth, and not one of them said Dr. Rand prescribed drugs to any of them for anything other than a legitimate reason.”

“There is no evidence Dr. Rand participated in a conspiracy,” he said. “The government’s case is literally in a shambles.”

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