Reno doctor pleads not guilty to new charges in pill mill case

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Jack Fox and John Ohlson said the new charges against Dr. Rand are not a surprise and shed light on the defense they’ll bring during the trial on July 25.
Anjeanette Damon, RGJ

12:15 p.m. Update: Lawyers for Dr. Robert Rand said the new charges in the pill mill case, which included the death of a second patient, were not a surprise and won’t affect the timing of his July 25 trial.

Rand, who has spent 14 months in jail since his arrest while on a family vacation to Hawaii, pleaded not guilty to the new charges that he illegally distributed oxycodone.

In a brief court appearance on Friday, Rand appeared pale and thin, but spoke firmly when Judge Bill Cobb asked him if he understood the new charges against him. When asked how he would plead to the new charges, Rand answered: “Not guilty, your honor.”

Rand was arrested in April 2016 and charged with participating in a pain pill distribution ring that operated out of the Jones West Ford dealership. Eight people who worked at the car dealership also were arrested, including Richard “Richie” West II.

All of Rand’s co-defendants have pleaded guilty to various charges. West is awaiting sentencing on one charge of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

In a brief interview after the hearing, Rand’s lawyers shed light on the defense strategy they’ll use during the July 25 trial. They argued Rand was doing his job as a family practice physician, prescribing pain medication to patients who couldn’t find medical care elsewhere.

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“He acted like a doctor at every moment in this case,” his lawyer Jack Fox said. “He’s done nothing wrong.”

Fox accused West and the other co-defendants of lying to Rand about their need for pain medication.

“There was no conspiracy,” Fox said. “The only conspiracy was between Richie West and his friends and employees. They were trying to trick Dr. Rand into giving him reasons why they needed medication.”

Fox and his co-lawyer John Ohlson said they’ll work to undermine West’s credibility if the prosecution calls him as a witness.

“I like my chances every time the prosecution puts a guy like Richie West on the stand,” Ohlson said. “You are going to convict somebody on the word of someone like Richie West, an admitted drug dealer, an addict, a betrayer of friendship?”

Ohlson said the defense team also hired a forensic accountant who documented Rand lived solely on his earnings from a doctor and will testify Rand did not have large sums of money common in drug cases.

Ohlson said he prescribed pain pills to help his patients.

“He did it because… he is a true believer,” Ohlson said. “He thinks people ought not be in pain and ought not be kicked out of the medical establishment because they have become dependent on their drugs.”

Prosecutors allege Rand prescribed an exorbitant amount of pain pills without a legitimate medical reason. Charges against Rand include the deaths of two patients, Michael Yenick, a 33-year-old former football player, and a woman who was identified only by the initial D.C.-Z. in the indictment.

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“He didn’t want to listen in terms of patients who wanted to get off of (the prescription drugs), or parents begging him to stop prescribing to their children,” Assistant U.S. Attorney James Keller said in a previous hearing.

Ohlson said he anticipates his defense will take four weeks to present. He plans to call more than 50 witnesses, he said.

​​​​​​Original post: ​Dr. Robert Rand pleaded not guilty Friday morning to new charges alleging he distributed oxycodone that led to the injury or death of a second person.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed new charges against Dr. Robert Rand in the pill mill case on Thursday, alleging he distributed oxycodone that led to the injury or death of a second person.

Rand faces two counts of distributing a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury or death, according to a superseding indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Nevada.

He also faces six counts of distributing a controlled substance, namely oxycodone, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

This is a breaking news update. Check back for updates.

Read more here: Reno doctor is again denied release from jail in ‘pill mill’ case

More here: Pill-mill trial postponed, Dr. Rand could be released from jail

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