Transcript unlikely to junk psychic case

Feb. 19, 2012 at 2:16 PM
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Legal experts say they don't expect a Florida judge to throw out the fraud case against a group of self-styled psychics based on grand jury testimony.

Federal Magistrate Judge Ann Vitunac said last week in Fort Lauderdale she would read over the transcripts for evidence of what the defense contends was prosecutorial misconduct; however, legal experts predicted finding evidence strong enough to warrant dismissal would be a tall order.

"It would have to be a lot more than negligence or sloppiness on the part of the prosecutor or investigators," Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Defense lawyers say it was more than negligence that resulted in the indictment against the defendants, who are accused of swindling customers out of some $40 million.

Prosecutors were thrown a curve ball after the indictment when one of the alleged victims signed a sworn statement saying he had not been ripped off and was a satisfied customer of the psychics. The Pennsylvania man, John Cleary, said he paid the group $500,000 willingly for life counseling services.

The defense contends the prosecution glossed over the fact Cleary was a satisfied customer when they took the case to the grand jury. The Sun Sentinel said prosecutors said they avoided contact with Cleary and some other customers because they suspected they might tip off the defendants about the investigation.

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