The former nursing director of a Lake Isabella skilled nursing facility - and the final defendant charged in connection with the deaths of patients at the facility - pleaded no contest Thursday to causing harm or death to an elder/dependent adult.

Gwen Hughes is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9. Nine other charges were dismissed against her.

Prosecutors say Hughes ordered certain patients at the Kern Valley Healthcare District facility to receive high and unnecessary doses of anti-psychotropic drugs. At least two residents were forcibly injected.

None were given a medical exam or diagnosis before receiving the doses, according to prosecutors. The drugged residents suffered side effects ranging from severe lethargy to drooling and incoherence.

Three patients died. Prosecutors have said the patients were forcibly medicated for convenience's sake.

Several others were charged in connection with the inappropriate medication.

Former administrator Pamela Ott was sentenced to probation and 300 hours of community service, Dr. Hoshang Pormir was given three years' probation for his role in the conspiracy, and pharmacist Debbi Gayle Hayes accepted a plea deal in 2009 and also received three years' probation.

- The Californian