SALT LAKE CITY — After a half-dozen trial continuations and years of waiting, a well-known case in Northern Utah seems to be coming to a close.
Elet Neilson, 53, appeared in a Salt Lake City federal courtroom Wednesday and pleaded guilty to two counts of tampering with a consumer product and two counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance, all felonies.
Neilson admitted to stealing and diverting pain medications, exposing hepatitis C to thousands of patients.
Neilson was accused of spreading the disease in both McKay-Dee and Davis hospitals in 2015, causing the facilities to notify 7,200 former patients of possible exposure to the disease. Neilson was employed at the hospitals during different time periods in 2015.
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 federal courthouse.
A plea agreement has been in talks in recent months, as a federal judge signaled in an April court filing.
Judge Dee Benson wrote in April that both sides of the case “need more time to complete plea negotiations,” according to the court filing. The April continuance was the sixth time Neilson had her trial dates moved, most of which were due in part to the case's complexity, according to the motions to delay the trials.
Neilson's trial in the case was originally slated to begin earlier this month, but the trial dates were suspended days before it was set to begin.
She is also facing a misdemeanor DUI charge in Davis County after police pulled her over in November 2018.
Neilson was arrested for allegedly driving drunk after Layton Police received a complaint saying a driver of a black Hyundai Elantra was unaware they were driving on a flat tire. Officers saw the vehicle going west on Layton Parkway taking up both westbound lanes of traffic and riding the dotted white line, according to charging documents.
When they pulled over the car, officers observed she allegedly had "bloodshot glossy eyes" and "sluggish movements," charging documents say. The case is still pending.
Officers conducted a field sobriety test, to which Neilson allegedly showed "extreme impairment," according to the affidavit. A blood draw was taken after Neilson was arrested.
The arrest landed Neilson back in a federal courtroom, as her arrest constituted a breach in her pretrial release conditions.
On Nov. 15, 2018, Neilson appeared in front of Chief Magistrate Judge Paul M. Warner, where he ordered that Neilson refrain from using alcohol, along with ordering that she not contact her step-daughter. Documents did not supply context as to why Neilson was ordered not to be in contact with her step-daughter. Warner ordered that Neilson be tested for alcohol twice a day using a sobrietor, a remote alcohol testing mechanism.
Two civil lawsuits were also filed against Neilson by those she reportedly infected with hepatitis C. Both suits allege that the Davis Hospital negligently failed to prevent nurse her from tampering with patient medication, reusing syringes and exposing patients to disease. Both cases, filed in state courts, are still pending as of Wednesday.
Neilson's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 5 in Salt Lake City's federal courthouse.