CLEARFIELD – A former Coalport man pleaded guilty to various charges Monday including assault and animal cruelty for his actions during in a crime spree in September of 2019.
James Christopher Potts, 19, had been on the run before being apprehended in January. He had posted bail on a few of his five cases before disappearing.
President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman noted that Potts had absconded at various times and had been involved in fights at the jail since he has been incarcerated.
He had considered giving Potts an eight-year maximum sentence, but after taking all this into consideration, Ammerman sentenced Potts to a total of two to 20 years in state prison.
In the aggravated assault case from Beccaria Township on Sept. 22, 2019, Potts, William Cochran, 34, Coalport, and others assaulted two men who arrived at a residence, by punching and kicking them before they got back in their vehicle, according to the criminal complaint.
Police say Potts shot at the vehicle with an automatic weapon and struck the vehicle with a baseball bat.
One of the men was pulled from the vehicle after they smashed the windows out and he was assaulted, as Cochran reportedly threatened to shoot him with a gun.
Police were able to collect fingerprints from the vehicle, which had damage estimated at over $8,000.
In an interview with police, Potts confirmed that Cochran and John Lawrence Wissinger, 28, of Altoona were involved in the assault, according to the complaint.
Wissinger is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on assault charges on Nov. 4.
For this case, Potts pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and criminal mischief.
According to the affidavit in the animal cruelty case from Jordan Township on Sept. 5, 2019, Potts and two others, Cochran and Joseph Brown, 23 of Fallentimber, got out of their vehicle reportedly wearing bandannas over their faces.
They walked to the porch of the home where they confronted a female occupant, according to authorities.
Potts pointed a shotgun at the woman and demanded she get down on the ground. She became afraid and released two dogs for her protection.
Potts reportedly shot and killed both dogs.
Early in October of 2019, a witness to the incident told police what she had seen and indicated that she was told by the defendants to “keep your mouth shut or we will hurt you and your family.”
In this case, he pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person and intimidating a witness.
In another terroristic threats case, Potts struck a man with the barrel of a shotgun in Irvona on Sept. 25, 2019 before leaving the scene.
Later that day, he was reportedly chased by police until he crashed a vehicle and was taken into custody leading to separate charges of fleeing from police, firearms not to be carried without a license and prohibited offensive weapon.
The fifth case involves a criminal mischief charge from Sept. 4, 2019.
In September of 2020, Cochran was sentenced to 36 months to eight years in state prison for these and five additional cases.