The feds recently shut down an alleged Dr. Feelgood’s practice and rounded up his accused ring of eight street pharmacists who doubled as workers at a Reno, Nevada car dealership.
Any patient who tries ringing Rand Family Care will have to swallow a bitter pill.
“The medical office is permanently closed,” a female’s flaccid voice reads off a toneless greeting. “We apologize for your inconvenience.”
The practice’s website still trumpets “old-fashioned listening” while espousing a “modern family doc” mantra to heal patients’ chronic pain. It shuttered last month after the Drug Enforcement Agency branded it a pill mill that was selling potent opioids through network of “patients” who doubled as dealers while pushing tin at the Jones West Ford dealership two miles away.
Dr. Robert Rand, 53, was brought under arrest in San Francisco on April 29 while traveling to Reno during a family vacation. He was rounded up along with the son of the dealership owner, Richie West II, 40, along with his co-workers: Omar Ahmad, 31; Joshua Green, 34; Clint Bloodworth, 40; Kathleen Griffin, 43; Alan Martinez, 59; Braden Riley, 40; Ryan Smith, 40. All were charged with conspiracy traffic in high quantities of a controlled substance, oxycodone. In fact, “hundreds” of oxy pills were prescribed weekly to Michael Yenick, a 33-year-old football star athlete who died of an overdose on October 2, 2015.
“Me as a normal person maybe you get a bottle with ten or twelve pills in it a month but Michael was getting a 100 pills a week or more from this guy,” Yenick's grieving brother-in-law John Bruno told The Daily Beast. “When you saw the bags of pills that he had you realize this is out of control.”
Bruno, who the Washoe County county coroner confirmed he died as a result of alcohol and oxycodone intoxication, said he’s considered Yenick like a brother since he was 16 and remembered him as a record-setting defensive tackle who “with the game winning tackle to clinch the 1999 AAA Nevada State Championship.”
As a star athlete who was recruited by colleges around the country for his tackling prowess on the gridiron, it was hard for his family to come to grips with his great potential falling prey to drug addiction.
“I love my brother-in-law,” Bruno said. “He was a star football player and he got a back injury from years of playing and he couldn't’ get surgery for it because his insurance denied him, and as a result he started getting treatment for the pain.”
Then he met Dr. Rand.
According to his brother-in-law, Yenick was on the mend and managed to kick his reliance on pain pills. Life looked promising once again.
“He was fighting the whole way and he checked himself into a rehab of three months he tried and he was getting himself off of it,” Bruno said. “That’s why this was his so bad; Michael was relying on people who were supposed to protect him didn’t.”
Bruno and Yenick's immediate family tried to intervene when they saw the signs of dependency kick back in while under Dr. Rand’s care.
“We caught wind of this before he died and there were several people that noticed the doctor doing this and yet the stuff continued.”
The stuff being the overprescribing of meds.
The feds take the allegation much further in a criminal case filed in the U.S. District Court in Nevada on April 27.
"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.
Yenick, who is only referred to by the initials “M.Y.” was prescribed the oxycodone “not for a legitimate medical purpose and by an individual practitioner not acting in the usual course of his practice, with the use of that oxycodone resulting in the death of” Yenick.
That Dr. Rand and company “obtained substantial income” for slinging the painkillers for more than a year.
The Yenick family also filed a civil lawsuit this week blaming the Reno-based doctor for negligence, saying Rand “did not safely and appropriately treat” Yenick when he prescribed “excessive doses of narcotics,” which led to his premature death.
After all, the former athlete had was actually “a vulnerable person,” according to the family’s lawsuit and placed his trust confidence in Rand’s hands. The lawsuit suggests Dr. Rand put on a false front when they promised “top quality care” and that in fact he failed to properly examine Yenick or bother with his medical history or basically do any kind of diagnosis when he “routinely engaged in the practice of writing prescriptions for controlled substances.”
Attempts to reach Rand’s attorney was unsuccessful. The attorney for Kathleen Griffin was clueless about how his client knew Rand and could only say “the facts known so far show is she had no knowledge of a conspiracy whatsoever,” before demanding all further questions be submitted in writing.
Richie West’s father failed to return repeated messages left at his dealership. His son’s lawyer David Houston told The Daily Beast that the loyal father who coached local sports teams was a bonafide patient of Rand’s who was coping with unspeakable pain after numerous back surgeries.
And for the record there’s nothing nefarious about his or any of his coworkers’ ties to Rand.
“He was a patient of his for several years,” his attorney said, talking in depth West’s maladies with his back. “He has suffered from chiro spinal fusion, a genetic disease that after so many surgeries he has 39 separate screws and pins from his neck to his pelvis to hold it in place.”
So permanently afflicted that Houston says West could easily have become a vegetable and collected a government check for disability.
His client also has a high-tolerance and needs more pills than the average sick joe.
“West was deemed to be 31 percent effectiveness for one pill,” he said. That means what one pill would supply for the one person--West needed three to accomplish the same effect.
“They’re complaining about the amount of pills Dr. Rand was prescribing to his patients but anytime you have people with badges and guns practicing medicine you’re going to have issues.”
The entire case, Houston suspects is a preemptive strikes to spook any MDs who aren’t second-guessing their prescriptions.
“This is all about listen to us and watch how you are prescribing because you can be next,” Houston said. “This is a deterrence case, in my opinion.”
Most critically perhaps is that the accused are actually Rand’s loyal patients.
“They are missing the fact that a number of people at Jones West Ford had Dr. Rand as their primary caregiver,” he said. “He was one of the only doctors who was taking new patients.”
More people he said have already come forward to sharing war stories of being under Rand’s care.
“You’re going to find out there’s a lot more people with similar stories like Michael’s,” Bruno said.
His brother-in-law tried to hold a sales job at a packaging company but his addiction became too much to shake.
“He was a loving person and a hard worker and fell onto a path that any one of us could have fallen into,” Bruno said.
The meds metamorphosed Yenick.
“He was night and day from the person he was to the person he became.
“It was a nightmare.”
As the accusations tally scores of supporters are supposedly coming to Dr. Rand’s rescue.
“The inventory as I understand it is 100 people are writing letters from patients and colleagues that say he’s outstanding and those will be submitted to the court,” the doctor’s 85-year-old father Stanley Rand told The Daily Beast.
“We don’t deserve this treatment and I know him as a superperson,” he said.
Rand’s father confirmed he had spoken to his incarcerated son this week and he is denying any culpability.
“His state of mind is clear and he knows what he’s done and not done,” he said. “This isn’t him.”