SALT LAKE CITY — For the fourth time, the federal jury trial for a former nurse blamed for spreading hepatitis C around two Northern Utah hospitals has again been pushed back.

Elet Neilson, 51, has been charged with a total of 16 charges, consisting of eight counts of tampering with a consumer product and eight counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance.

Neilson is accused of spreading hepatitis C in McKay-Dee and Davis hospitals in 2015, causing the facilities to notify 7,200 former patients of possible exposure to the disease. More than 3,700 people came forward for blood tests, and the Utah Department of Health said 16 positive cases of hepatitis C 2b were identified.

Neilson was federally indicted in July 2017. She pleaded not guilty to all charges on Aug. 16, 2017, at the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

Her jury trial was originally scheduled to start Oct. 23, 2017 but was continued to February 2018 before being moved again to May. Her jury trial was again rescheduled to start Sept. 24.

In an order signed Monday, Judge Dee Benson signed off on pushing back the three-day trial once more.

Neilson’s jury trial is now slated to begin on Jan. 7, 2019.

If convicted of all 16 counts, Neilson faces a maximum of 96 years in prison. However, if Neilson is found guilty of all eight charges of tampering with a consumer product and found to cause serious bodily injury in each charge, her sentence will increase to a maximum of 176 years in prison.

Neilson was issued a summons for her initial appearance in federal court. She is not being held in jail.

Jacob Scholl is the Cops and Courts Reporter for the Standard-Examiner. Follow him on Twitter @Jacob_Scholl or email him at jscholl@standard.net.

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