We’ll be keeping tabs on this very interesting trial. I’m sure it will be full of revelation and drama.
A grandma who gave $1 million over 30 years to a psychic she hoped would make her romantic dreams come true. A middle-aged woman convinced she’d been a warrior murdered by her “evil” husband in a previous life.
Just the first day of testimony in the trial of a Fort Lauderdale fortune teller could spawn a dozen movie scripts.
Rose Marks, 62, of Fort Lauderdale, is charged with defrauding $25 million from clients of her family’s fortune-telling businesses in affluent areas of Fort Lauderdale and Manhattan — including $17 million from best-selling romance novelist Jude Deveraux.
It took two days to pick the 15-member jury panel. Potential jurors were quizzed about everything from “Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves” — the song made famous by Cher — to whether they’ve read Deveraux’s books and if they believe in reincarnation, demons and the spirit world.
Several potential jurors were dismissed after expressing prejudice against Gypsies. Marks and her family, who were all born in the U.S. and are Roma who often refer to themselves as Gypsies.
What will this trial reveal about psychic fraud? Spiritualism? The Roma culture? The first family of psychics in America? Watch for updates!
One woman testified against Marks (known to her as Joyce Michaels)
Roma depleted her retirement accounts and savings, refinanced her home and borrowed on her credit cards, she said she sent more money – including $150,000 in late 2009 – hoping each time that the work would succeed and Marks would return everything.
Marks summoned her to Fort Lauderdale in July 2002 and told her that nearly $500,000 in cash and gold coins Roma had already given to Marks had burned in the 9/11terrorist attack on the World Trade Center — yet Roma continued to send money and jewelry to Marks, she testified.
She believed her and later reclaimed some jewelry from a raid on the Marks home.
Rose and Nancy cooperated to take a good bit of money from this wealthy UK woman whose husband was dying, she was desperate to keep him and, meanwhile, they never picked up on the facts that he gave permission for someone else to use his donated sperm and, surprise, he took his wife out of his will.
Yes, this DOES sound like a soap opera!
It seemed things couldn’t get any worse for Andrea Walker when her husband died – until she discovered he’d written her out of his will and agreed to let a former employee use his frozen sperm to bear his child.
Even Walker’s psychic, who’d been trying to help her win back her husband’s love and defeat his lethal pancreatic cancer, hadn’t foreseen such a bombshell.
The psychic, known to Walker as “Kate Michaels” but really Nancy Marks, had warned her of a “dark-haired woman” trying to get Brian Walker’s money — but there’d been no hint of him siring an heir from beyond the grave.
What the hell am I reading here? Is someone pulling my leg?
Debbie Von Beulen told jurors that she wrote messages was dictated to her by Rose Marks pretending to be Brad Pitt and Colin Powell. Von Beulen testified with immunity. Marks, she said, can not use a computer is not highly educated. But the work was for Marks’ client, novelist Jude Deveraux. Marks is accused of defrauding Deveraux of millions of dollars
Von Beulen testified that, as far as she knew, she was helping Marks to assist Deveraux in writing her novels.
“I never pretended to be anyone,” Von Beulen told jurors. “I never created anything myself.”
She said she portrayed the “fictional persona” of Pitt – and Powell – in story lines “to help this woman who was an author to be creative” and “get into character to help her create story lines.”
Deveraux wrote best selling novels and it is not clear what she thought these letters were – if they were real communications or just writing exercises. References did appear in a novel. She is set to testify later in the trial.
Von Beulen admitted to prosecutors that she, and a private investigator Marks hired, tracked down detailed personal information about Deveraux and her residence after the writer split away from Marks.
Von Beulen admitted she even accessed Deveraux’s personal bank and credit card account records by phone to figure out where Deveraux lived and places she frequented. She denied “stalking” Deveraux and said she used information Marks already had from her work with the writer because Marks was very worried about Deveraux’s “disappearance” and thought she was “unstable.”
Was Von Beulen a victim of or an accomplice to Marks? To be continued…
Jude Deveraux takes the stand. She admits she was not a big believer but was “suicidal” and desperately needed help with her personal life. She admits needed someone to listen to her troubles. She began to fork over more and more money to Joyce Michaels (Rose Marks) when she says her predictions turned out to be true. Marks promised Deveraux peaceful divorce proceedings. For a fee. And a returnable deposit of one million dollars. How did that work out?
Despite Marks’ promises, the divorce was tortured and complicated and the final settlement greatly favored her ex-husband, Deveraux said.
She said she agreed to it because Marks told her not to fight her husband in court and to sign anything offered “because he is going to die very soon.”
Marks told her that Deveraux’s husband would die “within three years,” she said.
But 22 years later, he is still very healthy and very wealthy — at her expense, Deveraux said with a shrug.
She testified that the judge who presided over her divorce in New Mexico was removed from the bench a year later for taking bribes and that the attorney Marks told her to hire later defended that judge.
Deveraux’s testimony will continue…
More insane revelations from Sept 10
Devereau says Marks claimed to be a psychic consultant for the Pope and the FBI and that her clients included presidents, Colin Powell, and actors Brad Pitt and Jane Seymour. Quite the name-dropper. But she pushed the fantasy quite far.
Marks decided Deveraux would marry Colin Powell and Deveraux said she believed she was corresponding with him — for four years — until she eventually cut it off because he would never meet her.
As Deveraux grieved for her son, Sam, who died in October 2005, Deveraux testified that Marks tormented her with claims that the child had not gone to heaven and that Marks could transfer the child’s soul or spirit into the body of another person, reuniting mother and son.
Marks told her she had foreseen the tragic death and prepared for it by saving an embryo from the in-vitro-fertilization procedures Deveraux had undergone to give birth to Sam, Deveraux testified.
Marks claimed that a virgin, who looked like the late Princess Grace of Monaco, had used the embryo to give birth to a child — the full blood brother of Sam, Deveraux said. And Marks predicted Deveraux would die, assume the body of this woman and be reunited with her child, Deveraux said.
Deveraux said the woman turned out to be Cynthia Miller, who is married to one of Marks’ sons.
Marks arranged for Deveraux to see Miller and the 4 yr old boy but was not allowed to interact with them. She also said actor Brad Pitt was secretly married to Miller and Deveraux would eventually be married to him when she assumed her body.
Though Jude Deveraux estimates she lost $20 million in what prosecutors say was a psychic scam, the best-selling novelist told jurors Thursday that she wants none of the money back.
“I will accept no money from this [prosecution],” Deveraux testified. “My only goal here is to make Rose Marks stop doing this.”
Deveraux admits how stupid she feels about it now. There is a dispute about whether Marks helped her career and life problems. It seems that Deveraux didn’t end up all that well off in the end but that bottom line is hard to tally. The emotional distress has no price.
Federal prosecutors finished presenting their case against Marks on Thursday after spending the last few days calling witnesses they hope will convince the jury that Marks controlled the purse strings and was the ringleader of her family’s psychic fraud conspiracy.
Whatever the jury decides, some of the figures and statistics tossed around in court were staggering.
Millions of dollars were said to fund the Marks’ houses and exotic cars. Marks apparently gambled away millions in slot machines for four years losing an average of more than $150,000 a year. It’s not clear if Marks will testify.
This is turning into a he said/she said tale between Deveraux and her ex-husband. He claims he had nothing to do with Marks but Marks used information about him to guide Deveraux’s actions. The Sun-Sentinel notes the Marks’ will resume presenting its side on Tuesday, and the case may go to the jury by late next week.
Rose Marks decided Wednesday morning that she will not testify in her own defense this morning in what was expected to be the last day of testimony. The burden of proof lies with prosecutors and Marks’ lawyer advised her NOT to tell the story on her own behalf. Her lawyer has attempted to discredit the other witnesses.
The jury has its role now, to decide if Rose Marks took money under false pretenses or was just providing a service. Fortune telling is protected free speech so it is unclear if the “curses” and other superstitious nonsense that Marks promoted will enter into the deliberation at all. This is tricky. Also, the fact that many other members of the Marks family were charged with fraud will not play into the case which is solely about Rose as a ringleader.
Is Rose guilty? In skeptical eyes she certain is promoting idea that are untrue according to what we know about the world – she was not telling the future, she was not removing curses and she was feeding her clients ridiculous information. But is that allowed? Especially if the clients bought into it (it’s not like there is NO information about psychic scams available), and continued to pay her for years. This is tricky. Who’s to blame? Rose? The Marks family? The Romani culture? The gullible people who bought into it? Yes. Everyone.
This is the end of our coverage for this entry. We will announce the verdict when it is decided.