NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A woman who posed as a phony guru and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from an unsuspecting victim pleaded guilty Friday to a grand larceny charge, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said.
Janet Miller, 39, admitted to stealing more than $650,000 from a Manhattan business woman between July of 2011 and August of 2012, authorities said.
Miller first met the victim in July, 2011 and told the woman that she possessed spiritual powers, prosecutors said.[cbs-audio url=”http://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/guru.mp3″ size=”340″ download=”false” name=”DA: Phony Guru Pleads Guilty To Grand Larceny Charge” artist=”WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reports”]
She then gained the woman’s trust by claiming she could see the victim’s dead grandmother crying because people were cheating, deceiving and stealing money from her, authorities said.
That’s when she asked the victim for $900 “in order to purchase materials to make a shield to block the devil,” authorities said.
Miller then gave the woman what she claimed was holy water as well as oils, salt and crystals and then began talking to her almost daily.
At Miller’s behest, the victim continued to give Miller cash over the next year for items she claimed were needed to protect the victim and ward off the devil, prosecutors said.
When the victim’s father was later diagnosed with cancer, Miller claimed she could help cure him and persuaded the victim that her money was cursed and unclean and that the she was capable of cleansing it, authorities said.
That’s when she asked the victim to take out more than $600,000 in cash from her bank account so she could “take the money to a mountain to perform cleansing procedures,” authorities said.
She was supposed to return the cash, but when she did, there was only a small amount left, prosecutors said.
“Larceny is larceny, no matter what form it takes,” District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement. “Fraud by a spiritual advisor is no different from fraud committed by an attorney, an accountant or any other person who gains an individual’s trust in order to steal from him or her.”
Miller is set to be sentenced in June.
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