The owner of a California senior living community was sentenced Friday to 180 days in county jail and five years of felony probation after he was found guilty in connection with the death of a resident with dementia who was struck and killed by a car while he was out walking or jogging.
The community’s executive director also faces charges.
Christopher Skiff, owner and licensee of independent living and assisted living community The Manse on Marsh in San Luis Obispo, CA, was convicted last month of elder abuse and involuntary manslaughter. He no longer will be able to operate elder care facilities, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement, putting California residential care facilities for the elderly on notice.
“Elderly patients and their families place the highest level of trust in care facilities and their staff to protect residents, not neglect their needs,” Becerra said. “My office will vigorously go after facilities that violate the law and endanger the residents they are charged to care for.”
Skiff was convicted in the Dec. 21, 2014, death of 65-year-old Mauricio Edgar Cardenas after a four-week jury trial. The state had filed charges against him in July 2017.
“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,” the attorney general’s office said. “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.”
A Manse on Marsh spokesman previously told McKnight’s Senior Living that Cardenas “was cleared by his physician to leave the property unassisted, and he did so frequently without prior incident.”
An evaluator with the state Social Services Department, after an unannounced visit eight days after Cardenas’ death, wrote in a report that Cardenas “did have permission from his physician and family to be away from the facility unassisted. It does not appear that anything could have been done differently to prevent this unfortunate accident. Manse staff were forthcoming and provided requested documents. No further action nor any citations are observed at this time.”
The day after the evaluator’s visit, however, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse received a letter alleging that Executive Director Gary Potts had accepted Cardenas as a resident knowing that he had a primary diagnosis of dementia and that The Manse on Marsh did not have a waiver entitling it to house such residents.
Potts also was charged in connection with Cardenas’ death. His jury trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 27.