A woman who reportedly misled Powell hospital staff in an attempt to get pain medication has completed her jail time in Park County — but she now faces the prospect of serving prison time in Colorado.
At a hearing in Circuit Court last month, Elena Nicoel Ornelaz, of Billings, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of attempting to obtain a controlled substance by fraud.
Charging documents say that in February, Ornelaz gave multiple names and told varying stories about herself as she attempted to get painkilling drugs at Powell Valley Hospital.
The 35-year-old initially identified herself as “Elenastacia M. Nicole,” claimed to be an employee of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, to have had some involvement with weapons of destruction and said she’d recently returned from living overseas — after her husband died while serving with the Air Force in Afghanistan.
“I mean, it is a bit confusing, it looks like from the affidavit, a lot was going on,” Ornelaz’s court-appointed defense attorney, Travis Smith, said at her March 15 sentencing. “But the bottom line is … you were trying to get that [medication] and you initially didn’t give your real name, is that correct?”
“Yes, sir,” Ornelaz said.
“And it took them [medical personnel] quite some time to figure out who you were?” Smith asked.
“Yes, sir,” Ornelaz said, noting that Powell Valley Healthcare staff had even looked up her Facebook profile in an attempt to determine her identity.
Powell Police Sgt. Matt McCaslin wrote in a charging affidavit that, according to an ER doctor, Ornelaz had requested “narcotics ‘to go’ and had even asked to be admitted to the hospital so she could get pain medications through an IV.”
McCaslin also found evidence suggesting that, under the pseudonym of “Elena Nicole,” Ornelaz obtained a prescription for 12 pills of oxycodone at West Park Hospital in December.
Charging documents indicate the recent conviction in Park County was the fifth time in six years that Ornelaz has been caught trying to obtain medications or medical care by fraud.
Following a plea deal between Ornelaz and the Park County Attorney’s Office, Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters credited her for the 34 days she’d served in jail, placed her on six months of unsupervised probation and ordered her to pay $255 in court fees and assessments — plus another $100 to reimburse Smith. Another 146 days of jail time were suspended.
Although she completed her jail time for the local crime, she did not go free, as she continued to be held in the Park County Detention Center on a warrant out of Colorado; Ornelaz was transferred to Fremont County, Colorado, last week.
The Colorado Department of Corrections had been seeking Ornelaz’s arrest since September, after she absconded from parole, said Adrienne Jacobson, a spokeswoman for the department. Ornelaz was on parole for “aiding escape from a mental institution” in Boulder County, Colorado, Jacobson said.
In trying to determine when Ornelaz should start making payments on the local case, Judge Waters asked how long she expected to remain in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections.
“To be quite honest with you, sir, I have no idea,” Ornelaz said.