Former Clovis clinic operator to lose nursing license, serve 5 years probation
CLOVIS, N.M. (KVII) —
The former operator of a walk-in clinic in Clovis, charged in 2016 with hundreds of felony counts for writing fraudulent prescriptions, will lose her nursing license and serve five years supervised probation with a suspended jail sentence following a plea agreement this week.
The Eastern New Mexico News reports that Annette Ternes, 58, pleaded no contest Wednesday to three counts of forgery and one count of practicing medicine without a license, all fourth-degree felonies. She will not face jail time unless she violates her probation, but with a felony conviction now she will "never be able to get her nursing license back," District Attorney Andrea Reeb said Thursday.
Ternes was charged two years ago with more than 200 felony counts, most of which pertained to August and September of 2015. About half of those counts - for controlled substances act violations - were dismissed as "duplicates of the forgery" counts, Reeb said. The plea agreement this week spared the courts an involved and lengthy trial while still removing Ternes' nursing license, she said.
"We wanted the maximum amount of probation, because she has no record, and (almost) none of the substances were controlled substances, but they were substances that can't be and shouldn't be prescribed to just any person," Reeb said. "She will now be a convicted felon for the rest of her life and she will never be a nurse again, which was our main goal."
Officials said Ternes used the credentials of an Albuquerque nurse practitioner to write the fraudulent prescriptions while running the now-closed Quick Care walk-in clinic in Clovis. Only a couple of those were for controlled substances and none led directly to patient injury, Reeb said, "but the potential for hurting somebody was there."
Ternes faced up to 195 years in prison and $650,000 in fines if she were convicted on all counts in trial, Reeb said, but both parties still felt the agreement was a "fair resolution."
"We felt by doing the plea we saved a week-long trial and a lot of people's time," she said, noting up to 80 witnesses that could have testified. "It was going to be a very complicated, technical, expensive trial. I definitely think there's a very good chance she would have gone to jail."
Ternes' attorney Jason Alarid did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.
Judge Drew Tatum told Ternes during the hearing that Alarid "did an outstanding job with the plea," as she "could have been spending the rest of (her) life in jail," records show.
"She put a lot of people in danger, and she makes the community second-guess now when they go to a nurse practitioner, or a nurse," Reeb said.