NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New York City psychic has been convicted of bamboozling more than $150,000 from clients by pledging to solve problems she traced to previous lives.
A Manhattan jury found Sylvia Mitchell guilty Friday of grand larceny and scheming to defraud. She’s jailed without bail ahead of an Oct. 29 sentencing.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office portrayed Mitchell as a fortune-telling fraudster who preyed on vulnerable people.
A Singaporean woman testified that she paid $128,000 after Mitchell said she’d help get rid of “negative energy.”
A Florida ballroom dancing instructor testified she gave Mitchell $27,000 after being told she needed to break her attachment to money.
Defense lawyer William Aronwald said Mitchell was hired to try to help people, and there was no evidence she didn’t.
After the conviction, Aronwald maintained that the victims weren’t all that gullible.
“The one witness who basically said that she had been told by Sylvia that she had been in a past life and that she had been an Egyptian princess in the past life with a strong attachment to money, that witness basically testified quite conclusively that she didn’t believe anything that Sylvia told her,” Aronwald said. “She didn’t believe in past life, she didn’t believe that she had a strong attachment to money, she didn’t believe any of that. And yet, she gave her the money.”
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