- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Prosecutors have filed new charges against a Montana woman accused of exploiting and helping to kidnap her mentally impaired 85-year-old uncle in North Dakota.

Sandra Potter, 68, of Worden, Montana, is accused of bilking her uncle, Robert Gross, of everything he owns. An arrest warrant was issued for Potter late last week on four counts of exploiting a vulnerable adult, including three felonies.

Gross has dementia.

Sandra Potter and Thomas Potter, Gross’s nephew, were accused a year ago of keeping Gross in deplorable living conditions and getting him to sign over oil well rights. Authorities early this year dropped the charges for lack of evidence, but they continued to investigate.

Authorities have not explained the relationship between Sandra and Thomas Potter.

Sandra Potter could face up to 41 years in prison if convicted on the new charges. Calls to two telephone listings for her in Worden did not go through on Monday, and court documents do not list her attorney. The Associated Press requested comment from the attorney who represented her on the initial charges.

Authorities say Gross signed over to Sandra Potter nearly $200,000 worth of property and mineral rights in North Dakota and Arizona, gave her power of attorney and left her everything in his will.

Court records describe Gross as having the mental capacity of a 12-year-old. He told a state Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent that he was aware he’d signed everything over to Potter but thought the transactions would go into effect only after his death.

Authorities said Gross last year was living in an East Fairview mobile home with no running water, only canned chili for food, broken, moldy refrigerators and dog feces throughout the residence. Authorities said that after they began investigating, the Potters held Gross in the Billings, Montana, area before Thomas Potter took him to Arizona, where Potter was arrested.

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