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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced that Christopher Skiff, owner and licensee of the Manse on Marsh Residential Care Facility for the Elderly in San Luis Obispo, has been convicted and sentenced following the death of a patient with dementia. Last month, after a four-week jury trial, Skiff was convicted of elder abuse and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of a resident in the care of the facility. On December 21, 2014, 65-year-old Mauricio Edgar Cardenas, who suffered from dementia, went missing from the Manse facility for several hours. He was found ten miles away, having been accidentally struck by a motorist while crossing the road in the dark. Skiff will no longer be able to operate elder care facilities.
“Today’s sentencing brings justice to the family of Mauricio Edgar Cardenas,” said Attorney General Becerra. “My heart breaks for this family and the tragic loss they had to endure. Elderly patients and their families place the highest level of trust in care facilities and their staff to protect residents, not neglect their needs. My office will vigorously go after facilities that violate the law and endanger the residents they are charged to care for.”
Evidence found that the facility initially refused to admit Cardenas, because it is not licensed to care for residents with medical conditions such as dementia. Aware of Cardenas’ dementia diagnosis, Skiff nonetheless ordered facility staff to find a way to admit him. After Cardenas was improperly admitted as a resident to the Manse, staff repeatedly expressed concerns about Cardenas’ behavior, reporting to Skiff that Cardenas was frequently lost, confused or disoriented, would go missing for hours, and would forget to sign in and out of the log book. Despite these alerts, Skiff failed to have Cardenas transferred to a facility that could provide the higher level of care required.
The California Department of Justice filed a complaint charging Skiff with one felony count of elder abuse, one count of involuntary manslaughter, and special allegations of causing great bodily injury and death. The jury found him guilty as charged. He has been sentenced to 180 days in county jail and five years of felony probation.
Co-defendant Gary Potts, Executive Director of the Manse, was also charged. The case was severed, and Potts's jury trial is currently scheduled to begin on February 27, 2019.