SALT LAKE CITY — A trial date has been set for a woman accused of causing a hepatitis C outbreak in 2015 and infecting at least seven people with the disease.
Elet Neilson, 50, entered a plea of not guilty at the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City to a total of 16 charges, consisting of eight counts of tampering with a consumer product and eight counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance. Her three-day trial is set to start Oct. 23.
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 is accused of causing an outbreak of hepatitis C in McKay-Dee and Davis hospitals that caused the facilities to notify 7,200 former patients of possible exposure to the disease, according to previous Standard-Examiner reporting.
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 indicted on federal charges July 12.
Neilson, her husband and her court-appointed attorney Jaime Zenger appeared in court on summons for her initial appearance. Neilson was not being held in jail before the hearing.
Following her not guilty plea, Neilson was ordered by Magistrate Judge Paul Warner to undergo random drug testing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stewart Young allowed Neilson to not be held in jail while awaiting her October trial, but that did not come without a warning.
Warner sternly told Neilson that a missed test or failure to keep in contact with the court would cause her to be held in jail until her trial.
The final day Neilson will be able to enter a plea agreement is Oct. 2.