Local doctor and 8 others implicated in DEA prescription drug case

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - 7 p.m. update:
Reno attorney David Houston described Richie West as being in good spirits and said he is prepared to go forward.

“He suffers from a deterioration of his body that is a genetic condition that most people would've frankly just given up and walked away from,” Houston said. “He choose to fight it. He continues to choose to fight it.”
Not winning release on bail does not mean West has lost his case, Houston said.

Magistrate Valerie Cooke pointed out in court if West is convicted if just one charge, continuing criminal enterprise, he would face a mandatory 20-year sentence.

Dr. Robert Rand was arrested by authorities in San Francisco after arriving from a Hawaiian vacation.

Sherry Stinnett has been treated by Rand as a patient. Stinnett said she “can't believe it, can't believe it. He seemed very much by the book.”

Under estimates by the U.S. Attorney's Office, more than $8 million worth of drugs were put out on the street in more than two years.

5:15 p.m. update:
Richie West will remain in custody after a U.S. District Court magistrate judge in Reno ruled Friday against turning him over to his parents.

West and other defendants made their initial appearance Friday before Magistrate Valerie Cooke on drug charges. Co-defendant Dr. Robert Gene Rand, arrested in the San Francisco Bay area, makes his first appearance Monday morning before a federal magistrate in San Francisco.

Prosecutors said Friday in Reno that West and Rand worked together to sell oxycodone for $30. As described by prosecutors, West and some of his co-workers are Jones West Ford would get prescriptions from Rand and West would sell them from his truck in the dealership parking lot.

Prosecutors said they found many prescription drugs at West's home and 61 guns.

West's next appearance is May 11, but his lawyer, David Houston, expects an indictment before then.

Prior story:
A local doctor and eight other Reno-area residents, including a number of employees of the Jones West Ford dealership, have been arrested and charged with being part of a conspiracy to unlawfully distribute highly addictive prescription drugs, including oxycodone, to people who did not have a medical necessity for them. That's according to U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Daniel Neill, and Nevada FBI Special Agent in Charge Laura A. Bucheit.

“Our U.S. Attorney’s Office is working aggressively with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to attack the growing problem of prescription drug abuse,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “We have prioritized unlawful prescription drug distribution cases, and plan to shut down dangerous ‘pill mill’ operations that are contributing to what amounts to, in many instances, a deadly problem.”

53-year-old Robert Gene Rand, 40-year-old Richard Winston West II, (AKA Richie West) 31-year-old Omar Ahsan Ahmad, 34-year-old Joshua Ross Green, 40-year-old Clint Mitchell Bloodworth, 43-year-old Kathleen Griffin, 59-year-old Alan Russel Martinez (mugshot not made available), and 40-year-old Braden Kyle Riley, all of Reno, and 40-year-old Ryan Daniel Smith of Carson City, are each charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, such as oxycodone and illegal use of a communication facility. Rand and West are also charged with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise with at least five other people in which Rand and West occupied positions of management. Rand is also charged with distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death, and West is also charged with three separate counts of distribution of oxycodone.

Dr. Rand was arrested April 29, 2016 in San Francisco while on vacation, and the eight other defendants were arrested in Reno and Carson City April 28.

“This investigation targeted a major distribution source of deadly and addictive prescription opioids being diverted to street sales across the region,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Neill. “These arrests clearly demonstrate that DEA and our law enforcement partners are committed to stemming the tide of drugs being diverted to the black market, as well as stopping medical professionals who disregard their ethical obligations and abuse the public’s trust.”

“This investigation demonstrates the FBI’s resolve to aggressively pursue those who engage in the illegal distribution of prescription drugs within our community,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Bucheit. “As a result of our alliance with law enforcement partners in Reno, a significant impact has been made on the illegal drug supply network in the area.”

Rand is a Nevada-licensed physician who operates Rand Family Care in Reno. West is the manager of the Jones-West Ford dealership. Ahmad, Griffin, Martinez, Bloodworth, and Riley are also employees of the dealership, and Green and Smith are former employees of the dealership. According to the criminal complaint (attached to this story), Rand allegedly prescribes narcotics, such as oxycodone, without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of his professional practice. Beginning on about September 30, 2015, and continuing to about April 28, 2016, Rand allegedly issued prescriptions for substantial amounts of oxycodone to his co-defendants, who filled the prescriptions at local pharmacies and then illicitly distributed them. On September 30, 2015, the complaint alleges that Rand issued an unlawful prescription for oxycodone, resulting in the death of one person.

In addition to the arrests, law enforcement agents executed federal search warrants at six locations, including two residences, two offices, and two vehicles connected to the defendants, and seized evidence related to the unlawful distribution of controlled substances, such as oxycodone.

CDC data suggests Washoe County has a high rate of deaths from heroin and oxycodone

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost two million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids in 2014. Overdose deaths from opioids, including prescription opioids and heroin, have nearly quadrupled since 1999. Overdoses involving opioids killed more than 28,000 people in 2014, more than any year on record, and over one-half of those deaths were from prescription opioids. For information on opioid overdose and how you can manage pain without prescription drugs, click here.

This case is being investigated by the Safe Streets Task Force in Reno, which includes the DEA, FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, Reno Police Department, and Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James E. Keller.

Per the US Attorney's Office: "The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."


ORIGINAL STORY, 4/28/2016: Multiple arrests have been made by federal agencies in a wide-ranging investigation in Reno.

Local police say any official information has to come from the US Attorney's Office, whose Nevada spokesperson has offered only this statement so far: "Federal and local law enforcement agents and officers are executing search warrants and arrest warrants at more than one location in Reno, including the Jones/West auto dealership, in connection with a federal investigation. All documents are sealed at this time. I will have more info available later today (Thursday)." No new information has been released since.

KOLO 8 News Now has confirmed the DEA, FBI and ATF are involved, and several arrests were made April 28, 2016. There is no word yet on the nature of any charges. At least one warrant was served at the south Reno home of Richard West II, otherwise known as Richie, the son of dealership owner Richard West. Substantial amounts of evidence were also taken from that home. Jones West Ford Used Car Manager Jay Costet tells KOLO 8 News Now that Richie West is one of the people served with an arrest warrant, and his truck was impounded as part of the investigation.

None of the involved agencies has released names of any of those arrested, but West is listed on the Washoe jail website as being in custody. Also in custody are several people with employment ties to Jones West Ford, according to its staff website: Braden Riley, Joshua Green, Omar Ahmad and Kathleen Griffin. All, including West, are being held on DEA or "federal matter" charges that have not yet been made specific.

The car dealership was closed Thursday morning during the investigation but has since reopened. Costet says owner Richard West wants to make it clear that the dealership itself is not the focus of the investigation, though some employees are.

Stay with KOLO 8 News Now for updates.

Warrant served in south Reno at the home of Richard West II