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Psychic dealt a hand of hocus-pocus, police warn

A 31-year-old financial planner recently filed a report with Tampa police claiming that her psychic cheated her out of more than $2,300.

By TAMARA LUSH and CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD
Published May 15, 2003

According to a report, the victim - whose name was not released by police because the investigation is pending - walked into the Delayed Criminal Investigation Unit in March. She told police that she went to the psychic - whose name was also not released - last year because she was having problems with her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend.

"The victim was suffering from evil influences against her spirit," wrote Jack Waters of DCIU.

Apparently, the psychic dealt a hand of tarot cards for the woman and determined that the woman had a "dark aura" and that "bad spirits" were coming from the grandmother of the ex-girlfriend.

The psychic charged the victim $775 for some herbs, healing oils and magic white candle.

Guess what? The potion didn't work.

But there's more. About a month later, the psychic called the woman and said the grandmother's influence was just too strong for the spiritual cleansing.

"Once the victim thought about the telephone call, she realized that indeed things had not improved that much in her life," Waters wrote in a summary report.

The psychic had another idea, one which cost $1,700. The victim told the woman that she only had $1,600 in her savings account and gave the psychic the $1,600. The psychic gave the woman more herbs and potions.

Since that last meeting, the victim said, the psychic has moved and left no forwarding address. Even though the woman was given a guarantee that the potions would improve her life, she has not seen evidence of it, police said.

Authorities predict that other folks out there may be victims of people like this psychic, which is why they are making the story public.

"The purpose of this is not to humiliate a victim but rather, to prevent other people from becoming victims," said Tampa police spokeswoman Katie Hughes.

HE'S BACK: Hillsborough sheriff's spokesman Lt. Rod Reder is back behind his desk on the second floor of headquarters after attending a 13-week course at the Southern Police Institute in Louisville, Ky.

Reder spent his days taking intensive classes on behavioral management, leadership and police administration. At night, he and the 60 other cops attending the school lived in a dorm on the University of Louisville campus.

They got to know the school's basketball team, held study groups and, from what it sounds like, even partied a little.

"Living the college life," Reder said cryptically.

While there, Reder slogged his way to classes in a massive ice storm, cheered on the Cincinnati Reds and attended the Kentucky Derby.

His roommate was Bill LaPere, now the assistant chief of the Lakeland Police Department. Reder came home on weekends to see his family.

Even though he has been swamped with media calls in his first few days back on the job, Reder is glad to be back. Well, he does seem to be a little sad to have to shave off the beard that he grew in his bohemian college dorm days.

"It's the first time in 26 years I've been allowed to grow a beard," Reder chuckled. "Naturally there was a lot of gray in it."

LAWYER AWARDS: The Tampa law firm of Hill, Ward and Henderson was recently voted one of four firms ranked highest in the state in general litigation.

The accolade came after Chambers and Partners USA, an independent research firm, interviewed 4,500 attorneys and clients to determine the rankings.

Ben Hill and Dave Felman were also ranked among the top 10 lawyers of their respective areas of practice in the state.

- Christopher Goffard can be reached at 226-3337 or goffard@sptimes Tamara Lush can be reached at 226-3373 or lush@sptimes.com

[Last modified May 15, 2003, 11:08:10]


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