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July 22, 2014

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Lawyers seek liver transplant for Aryan Warrior

The Aryan Warriors' reputed leader in Nevada, Ronald "Joey" Sellers (shown in his 1991 booking mug), is serving a life sentence.

The Aryan Warriors' reputed leader in Nevada, Ronald "Joey" Sellers (shown in his 1991 booking mug), is serving a life sentence.

In a bizarre saga that has dragged on for eight months, lawyers for imprisoned white supremacist Ronald “Joey” Sellers are making another push to get the government to buy him a liver transplant.

And once again, federal prosecutors — who are considering seeking the death penalty for Sellers, the jailed reputed leader of the Aryan Warriors prison gang — are resisting.

Sellers, 41, being held at the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island in Southern California, is the last of 14 defendants to be tried as the result of a federal racketeering investigation into the violent prison gang. The others have pleaded guilty or were convicted this year.

In court papers, Sellers’ lawyers say his health is deteriorating, and they provide graphic details.

“The defendant is quite ill from his end-stage liver failure,” they report. “He is severely bloated, has a massive hernia so large that a fist-size portion of his intestines are protruding from his muscular wall and he is in constant pain requiring medication in sufficient dosages that he risks addiction.”

Sellers contends his liver problems are the result of becoming infected with the hepatitis C virus while in the custody of the Nevada prison system.

His lawyers say that if he doesn’t get the liver transplant, he’ll die before a jury gets a chance to decide his fate on the racketeering charges. His trial is on hold indefinitely while prosecutors consider going through the lengthy death penalty approval process.

Sellers’ lawyers wrote that they “are doubtful that the defendant has the strength to withstand the rigors of a trial without this necessary treatment.”

But in their response, federal prosecutors are asking U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson to deny Sellers’ request for the liver transplant, which, according to medical Web sites, could cost up to $400,000.

The prosecutors say that Sellers’ medical treatment behind bars is being “monitored at the highest levels of the Marshals Service” and that during a recent evaluation at the USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, Sellers was not accepted as a transplant candidate.

The debate continues at an Aug. 25 hearing before Dawson.

•••

White House drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske will get a firsthand look Wednesday at Clark County’s Drug Court, run by Family Court Judge Jennifer Elliott.

Before that he’ll hold a 9:30 a.m. news conference at the Nevada Highway Patrol Building on West Sunset Road with top-level law enforcement officials on the “threat of drugged driving.”

According to the drug czar’s office, a national survey recently found there were five times as many nighttime weekend drivers under the influence of illegal drugs as under the influence of alcohol.

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