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Psychics say 'gypsy' is offensive

Feb. 6, 2012 at 11:23 AM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A Fort Lauderdale, Fla., family of psychics accused of conning clients out of $40 million say their family heritage is also on trial.

A defense attorney for the Marks family, a three-generation psychic family of Romanian Gypsy descent, said using the word gypsy in court is comparable to using the N-word, The Miami Herald reported Sunday.

"The connotation of the word 'gypsy' is a group of wandering people who go from city to city committing crimes," defense attorney Fred Schwartz said. He said prosecutors are using the term as a "tactical advantage" that will make the Marks family seem guilty.

Prosecutors said there is nothing inherently derogatory about the term and the defense team is "trying to 'muddy up the waters' in an attempt to discredit the government."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurence Bardfeld quoted dictionaries and family member Ricky Marks' YouTube video titles, which use the word gypsy.

"Obviously, Ricky Marks does not consider the term an ethnic slur," Bardfeld wrote.

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