Crime

Former Manse on Marsh administrator extradited to SLO County, appears in court

Former Manse on Marsh administrator Gary Potts pleaded no contest to felony elder abuse on Monday. A felony involuntary manslaughter charge was dropped.
Former Manse on Marsh administrator Gary Potts pleaded no contest to felony elder abuse on Monday. A felony involuntary manslaughter charge was dropped.

The former administrator of Manse on Marsh Assisted Living Facility who faces felony involuntary manslaughter and elder abuse charges made his first appearance in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Tuesday after being extradited from Texas.

A judge reduced bail for Gary Lee Potts, 63, from $250,000 to $75,000 after his attorney filed a motion requesting it be lowered to $50,000. Bradley Brunon called the initial bail amount “astronomical” and that the alleged offenses “were not committed intentionally, rather, at worst, through negligence.”

Potts was arrested July 21 and held at Smith County Jail, in Tyler, Texas. He waived an extradition hearing and agreed to be returned to California.

“(Potts) has been cooperative throughout the investigation, including giving several interviews to the investigators,” Brunon, wrote.

The charges stem from a Dec. 21, 2014 incident when Manse resident Mauricio Edgar Cardenas, 65, wandered away from the San Luis Obispo facility and later was struck and killed by a car on Los Osos Valley Road, 10 miles away. Christopher Edward Skiff, owner of Manse on Marsh, also was charged in the case. Skiff is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.

Investigators allege that Skiff and Potts knowingly and willfully endangered Cardenas.

“There is a solid consensus that if Mr. Cardenas had been appropriately placed in a more secure environment where his unique safety needs could have been monitored — he would still be alive today,” according to the investigation report.

The California Attorney General’s Office, which brought the case against Potts and Skiff, argued he was a flight risk, citing fears that he could flee to Mexico. The attorney general’s office alleges Potts moved from South Carolina to Texas without informing investigators.

Brunon included multiple character reference letters, which described Potts as kind, gentle, honorable and dedicated.

Brunon said $50,000 was the maximum bail Potts would be able to secure from a bondsman. A further arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 23. Potts will be held at San Luis Obispo County Jail until then.

Skiff is out of custody on $250,000 bail.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler

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