It took a jury only five hours Thursday to weigh the evidence stacked against Rose Marks, the matriarch of a Fort Lauderdale Roma family accused of running a $25 million fraud. In what turned out to be a dramatic climax to the well publicized case, jurors found the psychic guilty on all 14 counts. She faces up to 20 years in prison. The results are truly surprising, as most cases of fortuneteller fraud rarely come to a courtroom resolution.
In fact, almost none. As a New Times investigation highlighted earlier this year, when clients turn out their pockets to fortunetellers, by the time most are bled dry they're too embarrassed to go through the public legal process.
Up until now, the only other major psychic scammer to go to jail was Gina Marie Marks (no relation to Rose). This latest case was a true exception to the rule, not only because of the huge dollar amount involved, but because the criminal justice system actually worked here. Prosecutors typically fumble cases where someone willingly handed over money to a scammer (although, to be fair, the government did almost screw the pooch with the Marks trial, too).
A number of Marks' victims stepped up into the witness stand to testify about the mental, spiritual, and financial hold she held. The centerpiece of the government's case were the words of Jude Deveraux, the best-selling romance novelist who handed $17 million to Marks.
According to the Sun Sentinel's account, the judge rejected Marks request to stay out on bail before sentencing. Instead, she was immediately taken into custody. The blow hit the Marks family hard. Some member began taunting detectives in the courtroom following the sentencing. Another threw a Bible in the courtroom, while a different family member collapsed in the hallway.