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Howard Seth Cohen
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LOVE THIS!!! from +The New York Times.
From left, the fortunetellers Celia Mitchell, Sylvia Mitchell, and Betty Vlado. Credit New York State Department of Corrections

The Secret to the Psychic Trade? It’s in the Parole Board Transcripts
AUG. 28, 2015

Crime Scene
By MICHAEL WILSON

Is it real? Or a bunch of baloney? It’s a question New Yorkers and visitors to the city may ask themselves when they pass any of the seemingly countless storefront fortunetellers.

Celia Mitchell, 38, was pointedly asked that exact question last year: “What is the psychic business? Is it real, or a bunch of baloney?”

She answered, “It’s a scam, sir.”

“The whole thing is a scam?”

“Yes.”

Ms. Mitchell would know. She herself was a psychic. But after making a living portraying herself as a vessel of supernatural powers, she was coming clean.

She worked out of shops on Ninth Avenue in the Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan. In 2009, Ms. Mitchell told a client that a dark spirit was keeping happiness at bay. She asked the client for an $11,450 Rolex watch and a lot of candles and cash to clean the spirits. In all, the client paid $159,205, according to a criminal complaint.

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Ms. Mitchell was arrested and convicted of grand larceny and sent to prison, which is where, on March 4, 2014, she came to be questioned about her work. In the process, she joined a very specific group: convicted psychics who, seeking an early release from prison, sit for interviews before the parole board.

That number may soon grow. One psychic, Sylvia Mitchell, 41, who worked in Greenwich Village, is serving a prison term of five to 15 years after a grand larceny conviction in 2013. She will be eligible for a parole hearing in 2017. And this summer, a Times Square psychic, Priscilla Kelly Delmaro, 26, was charged with taking $713,975 from a marketing professional from Brooklyn after promising to reunite him with a woman he loved, even after the man discovered that the woman had died. Ms. Delmaro is in jail awaiting trial.

Reviews of transcripts from several parole hearings in recent years shine a light behind the hanging beads of the psychic parlor. The inmates’ reflections on their careers may give pause to the passer-by willing to fork over $20 or $50 or more for a promised peek at the future.

“I regret it. I’m sorry,” said another fortuneteller, also named Sylvia Mitchell, then 40, in a 2006 parole hearing. “I regret it and I have no explanation for it; that is just corruption. I look back at it and I can’t believe that I did all these things.”

Sylvia Mitchell is no apparent relation to the woman of the same name who worked in Greenwich Village. She was convicted of manslaughter after the death of her 85-year-old husband of three months in Manhattan in 1993. She had met him only months before, and admitted to killing him with an overdose of barbiturates to get his money.

“My culture did not allow me to go to school,” she told parole commissioners. “I never had education. I was to do this fortunetelling business, to make money.”

Another psychic convicted of grand larceny, Betty Vlado, 46, called herself a “gypsy” and said she started out reading tarot cards.

“Was it useless?” a commissioner asked at her 2014 hearing.

“Yes, pretty much.”

Ms. Vlado was asked: “Are you pretty much just telling a story, basically lying? Just making stuff up?”

“Yes.”

Three friends entered her shop on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in 2011. Ms. Vlado recalled one in particular. “She was telling me her problems, and I pretty much took advantage of that,” she said.

“Do you consider yourself a good liar?”

“No.”

She may be selling herself short. She convinced one woman to pay her $14,500 for a rock she said came from a meteorite that she had obtained from a “NASA insider,” according to press accounts of the criminal complaint, which has since been sealed. In all, Ms. Vlado admitted to taking $55,000 from multiple victims and promised to pay it back. When she missed her deadline, she went to prison.

“Have you lied to us here today?” a commissioner asked at her hearing.

“No.”

She was denied parole, but faced a second hearing a short time later, in January in Albion Correctional Facility near Rochester.

“Has anyone at Albion asked you for a little fortunetelling?” a commissioner asked.

“No.” She said no one inside knew why she was there.

“You don’t forecast the future?”

“No.”

The transcripts suggest the commissioners were not above having some fun at the expense of the inmates, who were hoping to be given what is known as an open date for early release.

“Are you going to be given an open date or not?” Joseph P. Crangle, a commisioner, asked Ms. Vlado. “You’re a fortuneteller. Tell me what I am thinking.”

“I am hoping you’re thinking to give me a chance to go home,” she replied.

“That’s not what he asked you,” another commissioner interjected.

Commissioner Crangle asked again, “What am I thinking?”

“I am not going to read your mind.”

Ms. Vlado described how she read tarot cards: “By energy, by the pictures, the way they fold, the way they’re turned. If they fall face down, it means one thing. If it falls facing me, it means another thing.” If she were released, she said, her fortunetelling days would be behind her.

“I will never look at a tarot card or a palm ever again,” Ms. Vlado said. She was granted parole and released on Feb. 26.

Celia Mitchell from Ninth Avenue, who once asked a client for money for a “meditation tent,” described her work.

“Sometimes you don’t see anybody,” she said. “Sometimes you see four, five people a day. It depends. It’s a flow. It could be nobody. It could be some days you don’t make anything, and some days you can make three, four hundred dollars a day.”

A commissioner asked Ms. Mitchell how she predicted futures.

“It was just going by what they would give you,” she said. “It’s all a scam. It’s by their demeanor. I want to write a book about how gypsies scam people out of their money.”

“You don’t think there’s any legitimate psychics out there?” she was asked.

“If they are taking your money, they are not for real.”

Ms. Mitchell said she had no intention of returning to fortunetelling. A parole commissioner reminded her that they had heard that before. Ms. Mitchell was convicted of grand larceny in 2007 under similar circumstances, and the board granted her parole several months later.

“We didn’t predict your future correctly last time, did we?” a commissioner asked.

Ms. Mitchell replied, “I guess not.”

Twitter:@mwilsonnytEmail: crimescene@nytimes.com

Crime Scene
A weekly column that explores the rich landscape of crime in the city and the characters on both sides of the law.


#fortunetelling   #scam   #truecrime  
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believe it or not, Denise, I KNEW you would...

now where's my $2?
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Persian arts come to life in LA this Saturday at #UCLA .
Shahrokh Yadegari and Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam present The Scarlet Stone, a dance theater piece based on Shahnameh and Moher-ye Sorkh.

Full info from Green Galactic: http://www.greengalactic.com/2015/the-scarlet-stone/

#LAthtr   #dance   #Persian   #culture  
Provides publicity and marketing services to art, music, film, entertainment and nonprofit clients. Strategic media campaigns, planning, PR, social network marketing, website consulting/content development and online marketing. In Los Angeles.
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Feeling charitable?
Consider a small donation to help my friend Patrick as he battles colorectal cancer with the support of his friends and family.
My friend +Kristin Holt produced this surprise flash mob for him...
https://vimeo.com/133928368
LINK TO THE FUNDRAISER: http://fnd.us/c/611Cs7

#cancer   #support   #fundraiser   #friend   #family   #community   #village   #LAmusic  
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#GOT Peanuts mashup.
courtesy of daniel dalton and +BuzzFeed

Yes. I would audition for YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, BUT YOU KNOW NOTHING, CHARLIE SNOW. So someone write it already!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/danieldalton/you-know-nothing-charlie-brown#.araGe3ezg 
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#LAthtr  gets more GAYE with Captain Gaye's video +Yelp review of +BootlegTheatre.
Catch the Captain in LARRY GAYE: RENEGADE MALE FLIGHT ATTENDANT. Theatrical and VOD release 6/5/15.

#LarryGaye   #BootlegTheater   #dtla   #hifi   #CaptainGaye   #comedy   #shortfilm   #shortshorts  
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Please endorse me for "everything bagel" on +LinkedIn​!
Do it for me, you, and/ or +Andie Grace​.
Because #dada.

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=22858029
“Please endorse me for "Everything Bagel" on @LinkedIn! http://t.co/muJcKud89O #social #bagel #seriously”
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if you're stuck in ac and working...
there's nothing like a good groove

#funkymeters  to start is also a clear sign that everything is going to be okay
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I've been waiting to share about Dismaland until this video went live...
#dismaland #art #capitalism #consumerculture  
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+tannaz sassooni unearths some of the more obscure #Persian   #food  spots in #LosAngeles .
I've eaten with this lady, and trust her palate without question.
 
I Went Beyond the Kebab for Thrillist
So excited to share the fun piece I wrote for Thrillist on LA's best Persian food.   Since I expect my fellow Angelenos to all to be pro ethnic eaters, I decided to skip the obvious kebab choices and find some of the more obscure Persian eats around town.  ...
So excited to share the fun piece I wrote for Thrillist on LA's best Persian food. Since I expect my fellow Angelenos to all to be pro ethnic eaters, I decided to skip the obvious kebab choices and find some of the more obscure Persian eats around town. Really delicious to research, ...
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yeah, thanks!!
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party planning?
Captain Gaye sure is!
He's shopping at Topline in Glendale.

Catch him in LARRY GAYE: RENEGADE MALE FLIGHT ATTENDANT
in theaters and VOD on 6/5/15

#larrygaye   #gaye   #yelp   #liquor  
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Have them in circles
644 people
Brandi Veil's profile photo
shane herring's profile photo
Gary Hardwick's profile photo
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may 惠美's profile photo
Edmund Wałęga's profile photo
Adam Mayfield's profile photo
Adam Emperor Southard's profile photo
Emily Pitcher's profile photo
Work
Occupation
Perorming Artist, Actor
Employment
  • Self Employed
    Performing Artist, 1978 - present
  • Piven Theatre Workshop
    Instructor, 1995 - 1998
Basic Information
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Married
Story
Tagline
Artist, Lover, Social Being, Multi-8
Introduction
I am a performing artist living in Los Angeles. MY RESUME
NewGround Fellow, 2015. What is the NewGround fellowship?
Bragging rights
I built a 7 hole miniature golf course for my 30th birthday. My grandma Bess' latke recipe is the bomb.
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Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Echo Park, CA
Previously
Rogers Park, IL - Wyoming, OH - Richmond, IN - Tampa, FL - Marin County, CA
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