Hermitage astrologer allegedly made a fortune by fortune telling - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

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Hermitage astrologer allegedly made a fortune by fortune telling

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HERMITAGE, Pa. - A law dating back to the mid 1800's could potentially put a Hermitage woman in jail.

26-year-old Jennifer Marks is accused of charging people hundreds, even thousands of dollars for mystic solutions to their everyday problems.

Marks was arraigned before a district magistrate Wednesday on charges of theft by deception and fortune telling.

According to court affidavits, investigators spoke with five customers who visited Marks at Jennifer's Astrology Shop on Crescent Avenue in Hermitage.

One woman tells police that she spent more than $28,000 on candles that Marks said would remove a spell that was preventing the two from being together.

One man claims Marks charged him $200 for a candle that she said would help get his estranged wife to return to him. The man tells police that the candle didn't work.

A woman visiting the astrology shop says Marks told her that she had negative energy, and sold her two candles at $500 each so her estranged husband would fall back in love with her.

Another alleged victim says that Marks told her to meditate over a $500 dollar candle in order to help get her friend out of jail early.

One woman reports spending $500 dollars on candles, crystals and a bath potion to remove a darkness that plagued her. The woman says that the bath potion smelled like hair conditioner. She threw out the potion and never went back to Marks.

When confronted by police, Marks denied having any special abilities or powers.

Under Pennsylvania law, fortune telling is a third degree misdemeanor. Punishable by 90 days in jail or a $5,000 fine.

According to attorney Matthew Mangino, the law that dates back to 1861 bans pretending to fortune tell for profit.

"It doesn't appear it's been enforced often in Pennsylvania," said Mangino. "But it is a statute on the books that has been used by law enforcement at various times."

Mangino said the intent of the statute is to prosecute people who are defrauding.

In some cases, Mangino said the difficulty of the law is proving the fortune teller is pretending, as the law states.

"There would be a burden on the police or prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone violated this statute," said Mangino. "It's been successfully argued that these statutes violate your right to free speech, there are also religious overtones."

In Ohio, fortune tellers are regulated under the consumer law as entertainment. If a client feels taken advantage of they should contact the Attorney General.

Marks is scheduled to be back in court on Thursday.

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