Three members of a family of psychics in Broward County, Fla., pleaded guilty this week to cheating their clients out of some $25 million by lying about communicating with Michael the Archangel and other spirits.
According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, eight out of nine relatives of Rose Marks, 61, the accused ringleader of the psychic fraud, have admitted to charges including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. But Marks herself, who is accused of defrauding Jude Deveraux, the romance novelist with whom she developed a longtime friendship, is awaiting trial in Fort Lauderdale.
Two of Marks’ daughters-in-law, Nancy Marks and Cynthia Miller, pleaded guilty to charges and admitted to defrauding victims of between $1 million and $2.5 million. Nancy Marks told prosecutors that she lied to clients, telling them she was in contact with “spirit guides who would provide God-given directions” in order “to obtain large sums of money.”
Miller also pleaded guilty to lying about being able to communicate with spirits, and admitted that she had convinced a client who was hearing voices that his problem was his “lack of faith” and to give her $400,000 in gold coins. When the client asked her to return the money, Miller told him that they they "were buried in a cemetery and she could not remember where ... that only Michael the Archangel would know.”
Both of the women, along with Marks’ sister, Victoria Eli, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, have been ordered to pay restitution to the victims.
"Rose intends to go to trial," Marks’ attorney Fred Schwartz said last week. He did not comment on the prosecution’s recent threat to charge his client with income tax fraud as well.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Marks and nine of her family members were charged for their involvement in a “$40 million advance fee scheme” in 2011.
The government press release argues that Marks and her family members misrepresented themselves as “fortune tellers, clairvoyants and spiritual advisers” and that “they falsely represented to their victims that they could remove purported evil spirits or curses from their lives or that of their loved ones.”
Marks has maintained that she was simply rendering a professional service to an obliging client. In an interview with the Sun Sentinel in December, Marks said of her relationship with Deveraux, "We came to an understanding that if I'm supposed to shut down my business and just work with her exclusively, then it would be, you know, expensive. She would have to pay me for 24 hours a day at her beck and call.”
The Marks family reportedly ran fortune-telling operations in Fort Lauderdale and New York, where Marks reportedly met Deveraux for the first time while the writer was going through a divorce. Marks said that Deveraux eventually began coming to her for guidance five or six times a week before asking her to work with her exclusively.
"I doubt anyone can imagine what me and this woman shared, and it was work, it was hard work,” Marks said. “It was seven days a week, Christmas, New Year's, Thanksgiving, all the holidays I had to spend with her. If I spent maybe one or two days out of a month with my family, I was doing good."