HarperCollins at least pretends to believe that the contents of its recently released nonfiction yarn, Miami Psychic, is true. The publishing house's biography of new author Regina Milbourne reads:
"Regina Milbourne first realized her psychic gift two weeks after almost drowning in an unattended swimming pool when she was twelve. With only a sixth-grade education, and half her life spent as a practicing psychic, she is coming clean to leave her past behind. She lives in Miami, Florida."
Realized her "psychic gift" at the age of 12 after almost drowning? That just sounds made-up. Then there's this synopsis of the book, which also has the ring of fiction.
And it might be just that. If you go to the customer reviews on Amazon.com, you'll find another take on the book, which was co-written by Yvonne Carey, a freelance writer for the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel who is currently working as a "special correspondent" for the latter newspaper's Community News section.
A reader who claims to be a cop from Miami busts Milbourne:
(W)e 'know' the author and despite her claims to the contrary she's not the 'Lone Psychic' out on a crusade. Truth be told, her 'name-alias' is Gina Miller Uwanawich she may go by Annie or Christine and she's really married to 'Sharkey' (a Gypsy in real life with an alias) who is the character represented in the book. She comes from a long line of so called psychics; her mother (a convicted felon) Helen Johnson Williams (with a long list of alias), is one, as is her maternal Grandmother Tina Johnson Ephium (of Tallahassee Florida). Her Brothers Vinny, Brock, and Anthony are married to 'psychics", as are all of her aunts on both sides of the family. Meanwhile her Father is John M Uwanawich a convicted felon (bribery), he never lived in the Bronx. He's hails from Delaware (as does our heroine) and they moved to Florida in the late 80's and she along with the Uwanawich clan worked the seasonal psychic trade between New York and Florida since. A far cry for the Star Island - South Beach - Miami Vice Glamour Psychic the purports to be.
The reviewer is an occasional Amazon contributor who goes by the moniker "Law Reviewer." On his Amazon profile page, he has a picture of himself in cop regalia. It might be Law Reviewer who is spinning fiction, but he certainly knows his stuff when it comes to the Uwanawiches. The clan, indeed, has a dastardly history. I've done considerable research on the family, especially John, who played a major role in an investigative feature story I did on Palm Beach County Deputy John Nicholas several years ago. Nicholas, who resigned from the department shortly after the article was published, was tied up with Uwanawich, who is indeed a convicted felon. These are true Rom Gypsies, whose lives are built on defrauding non-Gypsies, or gadjes , as they call them. Just last month, a Delray Beach police detective featured in that story, Jack Makler, was sentenced to five years for protecting a rival clan, the Markses.
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And Uwanawich "psychics" are some of the worst vipers in society. But as of now, Law Reviewer's claim is just that -- a claim. The book appears to date back to August 29, 2004, when Carey did an article on Milbourne for the Miami Herald. It begins:
Curiosity doesn't necessarily kill cats or people, according to Regina Milbourne.
In fact, a near-fatal accident at age 11 turned into a psychic gift, she said. A curious girl, she went swimming without telling her family and nearly drowned. She figures she was dead, without a heartbeat, for five minutes.
"I saw a white light but was told not to enter. I heard angels talking. I had a duty to fulfill on Earth," Milbourne said.
Twenty-two years later, after sharpening her skills at the Berkeley Psychic Institute in San Francisco, Milbourne is now a "master psychic," reiki healer and "life coach."
Weston's growing population became her future.
"I see Weston as the type of place that is wide open to interesting and different things. There's a freshness about it, whether it's the Everglades or just the fact the city is so new," Milbourne said.
The number given for Milbourne's shop is now disconnected and I couldn't find a license under her name in Broward County. If Milbourne really has Greek Orthodox roots and saw that white light, more power to her. But if she truly is Gina Miller Uwanawich, then HarperCollins has a lot of explaining to do. I phoned Jennifer Brunn, the publicity manager for ReganBooks, the HarperCollins division that published Miami Psychic, and asked her about the claim. She seemed taken aback and said that the book, as far as she knew, was true and the author is, in fact, who she says she is. "To my knowledge, she is Regina Milbourne," Brunn said.
Brunn said she would look into the matter and get back to me. I'll update as soon as I get word.