The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

September 5, 2013

Hermitage woman charged with fortune-telling

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

---- — A Hermitage woman has been charged with fortune telling and other offenses for telling people she could change "forces" in their lives and selling candles, cleansing washes and crystals that she claimed had supernatural capabilities, police said.

Jennifer Marks, 26, of 59 N. Crescent Drive, turned herself in Wednesday on Hermitage police charges of six counts of fortune telling, two counts of theft and one count of attempted theft.

She was arraigned by District Judge Ronald E. Antos, Farrell, who set a preliminary hearing for 11:30 a.m. Sept. 12. Marks posted bond.

The charges cover the period of September 2012 through July and police said they investigated a complaint lodged June 14.

The original complainant said she spent almost $30,000 at Jennifer’s Astrology Shop, which is located at Marks’ home. Marks performed palm and Tarot card readings, police said.

The woman said Marks told her at a reading in October that a man the woman was in love with “was under a spell of mystical influence which was making him sick and preventing him from being with her,” detective John Miller said in an affidavit of probable cause.

Marks asked the woman for personal items belonging to the man so she could meditate on them, and the woman complied, police said.

“She said that Marks told her that she could help remove the spell from this man but that it would cost a lot of money,” Miller said.

The woman said she believed that the man was in danger from the spell.

The woman would buy a candle from Marks that Marks had meditated over, and followed instructions Marks gave her as to when and how long the candle was burned, Miller said. The woman also was told the woman to meditate while the candle burned, police said.

After a week of no results, the woman returned to Marks, police said.

The woman said “she was informed by Marks that the woman who was placing the spell on the man she loved was going to someone else and spending more money to keep him under her control,” Miller said.

The woman paid Marks $28,098, and Marks would meditate over the money as well as the candles, the most expensive of which cost $5,000, police said.

Police obtained a search warrant and raided the astrology shop July 26. Marks identified herself as a “reader” and said she assisted her customers through meditations to help them relieve stress, police said. She said she sold polished stones and crystals to “assist in meditation,” Miller said.

“She denied that the candles or objects had any special properties or abilities,” Miller said. “Marks denied that she had any special abilities or powers.”

Readings usually cost $45 to $65, and the most a person would spend was $100 to $200, Miller said Marks told him. She said the woman who claimed to have spent more than $28,000 actually spent no more than $700 to $800, police said.

Police seized copies of fliers with clients’ names and other information on them, Miller said.

“Several of these names had dollar amounts printed on them in excess of what Marks stated her fees for readings were,” Miller said.

Another customer told police Marks sold her a candle and stones/crystals to meditate over so that the woman’s husband would leave and the negativity in her life would likewise evaporate.

The second woman paid Marks $80 cash and gave her a $480 check. The check was seized by police. After the seizure, Marks called the woman and asked for a new check, police said.

Four other people told police of buying goods and services from Marks to get an estranged man’s wife to return to him; to get a woman’s estranged husband to fall in love with her again; to get a woman’s friend out of jail early; and to remove “a dark, possibly black, magic that was “over” a woman’s family.