Many skeptics like myself have been closely following the recent run of criminal prosecutions of professional psychics. Notable among these cases has been that of the Rose Marks family clan that was prosecuted in South Florida. I have written about various developments in the story, including here:
And about Marks’ conviction here:
The latest installment of Real Life Karma, or what goes around sometimes comes around when prosecutors decide to do their jobs, was in the news last week when 44-year-old Nancy Marks, sister-in-law of psychic racketeer Rose Marks, was sentenced to a prison term of three years and nine months, and ordered to repay more than 2.2 million dollars to her victims.
Marks was one of nine defendants in the original prosecution who eventually pleaded guilty rather than risk trial by jury. Rose Marks ended up being the only defendant whose case went to trial. She was found guilty on all counts, and has been in custody since then, awaiting sentencing in March.
Until now, most defendants have been sentenced rather leniently, to minimal if any prison time and somewhat more extended parole periods. A variety of factors contributed to the mild sentences, including time served, age, the fact that some of the defendants were spouses who were peripheral to the scams and were prosecuted for crimes like money laundering, and also that many appear to have taken active steps toward reforming themselves and their lives.
Nancy Marks is a different story, and while her attorneys tried to portray her as a victim of background; like all of the Marks clan she is of the Roma “gypsy” culture, where women are often trained from youth to become storefront psychic con artist, and she tried to claim that therefore she had few other options, and she did not understand the criminal nature of her crimes. At the sentencing hearing she reportedly said, “I should have known better and I do know better now.”
Uh-huh. But 2.2 million is a lot of cash to have to repay, and is certainly reflective of a great deal of human misery experienced by this conniving thief and predator. And the sentence bodes poorly for Rose Marks herself, suggesting that she may well receive a long-term prison sentence along with severe restitution penalties. We can hope.
One of the best lessons of this successful prosecution is just that: it demonstrates that when prosecutors are willing to commit the necessary resources, psychic criminals can be prosecuted and convicted. In south Florida, one of the two main havens of organized Roma psychic crime (along with New York City), local prosecutors often allow malefactors to arrange to repay victims, not simply under threat of prosecution but rather to avoid prosecution. This is a common but unfortunate outcome. One understands that police want to help victims as best they can, and these situations assure that victims get some of their money back. But rest assured that the perpetrators in these cases do not see the error of their ways and find other lines of work. They simply go back on the street the next day to lure their next round of victims, and the literally vicious cycle continues.
So let’s hope that as Rose Marks prepares for a long prison stay, that prosecutors, as well as criminals, learn the valuable lessons of this round of cases, and continue to put pressure on these criminal enterprises.
Jamy Ian Swiss is Senior Fellow at the JREF. He blogs regularly at randi.org.