Growing complaints force new inquiry into Palm Beach County psychic

South Florida Sun-Sentinel/August 14, 2002
By Mitch Lipka

For more than a decade, the heartbroken, the ill and those desperate for answers to the unknown sought Linda Marks' counsel.

The self-proclaimed psychic, astrologer and woman of faith became the center of their universe. And they gave her money. Lots of it.

"She got me at a very vulnerable time in my life," said Anna Chandler of Boca Raton. "I would have done anything to have my boyfriend stay."

Like dozens of others before and since, Chandler handed over money to Marks as a part of a "purification" ritual. Money - former clients said they were told - gave Marks power. They said they were counseled that if they told anyone, bad things would happen to them.

Until a lawsuit was filed in February against Marks, the Delray Beach Police Department and former Detective Jack Makler - who the suit asserted was protecting Marks - these former clients thought all had been lost.

The publicity that followed the lawsuit has swelled the list of angry former clients. It has swelled the complainants who have joined the lawsuit to more than a dozen and led to the disclosure of a seemingly unorthodox relationship between Marks, convicted of fraud, her husband James, also a convicted felon, and Makler.

Now, cases against Linda Marks that had gone dormant for years are again under investigation and Makler's relationship with the Markses has come under heightened scrutiny. Makler's old cases are being passed to the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office and an internal affairs investigation is being conducted.

"It's just snowballing,"said Detective Robert Stevens, who is exploring whether Linda Marks has been running a "continuing scheme to defraud."

Police Chief Larry Schroeder said an anonymous packet of police reports, internal memos and videos sent to his department and the Sun-Sentinel has raised additional issues about Makler's relationship with the Markses.

"We're trying to answer a lot of questions," Schroeder said. "This information is causing us to look a little bit deeper into some other things."

Other than proclaiming his own innocence, Makler said there is little he can say because of the ongoing investigations.

"It hurts me and my family's been hurt by this," the 22-year police veteran said. "Everybody that knows me knows that I'm straight up. There's a lot of things I want to say and unfortunately I'm not allowed to say anything."

While defending herself, Marks doesn't completely dismiss the allegations of her disgruntled former clients.

"Half of it is lies, half of it is not lies," she said. "I'm telling the truth to you."

The clients

Veronica Lynn Boys, a resident of Bermuda, said she and her mother met Marks in 1994 and gave her $1.1 million over a seven-year period.

"I met with her and had a reading, and she said I was in trouble," said Boys, a 55-year-old accountant. "I had a son I was very concerned over. She could cure him."

Through sleight of hand, her former clients said, Marks would turn jars of water red and have snakes emerge either from an egg or a jar to persuade clients that evil spirits were present.

"She had an egg on the table. She said if everything is well this egg will stay as it is," Boys said. "If he is not well yet this egg will break and a serpent will come out."

A small snake emerged. "She said it was the evil spirit that was still there," Boys said. "She asked how much did I believe because he was a very sick boy."

They gave Marks $150,000 in cash. The money began to flow after that.

Sylvia Jozwiak's 88-year-old mother struck up a "friendship" with Marks several years ago and signed over a condo in Boynton Beach. A lawyer later had the property returned after Jozwiak learned that her mother had given Marks all her money, including a large sum left by her son, Jozwiak's brother.

Among payments she said her mother made to Marks: $12,000 at The Home Depot for kitchen items, $10,000 in furniture and a clothing shopping spree at Macy's. The relationship was a secret until this year.

"I just don't believe the whole thing," said Jozwiak, who lives near New York City. "She had no choice but to tell me because she didn't have any money. She gave her everything - everything."

"[Marks] definitely preys upon the elderly and the sick and the emotionally distraught," said Barry Silver, the Boca Raton attorney representing Marks' former clients.

Marks denied she conned or duped anyone.

"I don't force nobody. We become very good friends," she said. "If they don't want to believe in my prayers and the word of God, they can walk out the door.

"It's not like I took the money from them all at one time. I knew them for a long time."

As for all the tales of her turning water to blood and having snakes or ooze come out of an egg, Marks said she never did any of those things. An egg, she said, is part of a connection with a client, but she said she knows nothing of these tales of odd happenings to them.

"I believe in miracles. That egg represents life. It represents a little chicken's life," Marks said. "I feel that's a great gift from God. I gave them the eggs to take home for good luck and happiness. What they do with it when they take it home, I don't know."

New Mexico warrant

By the time Marks was picked up in Delray Beach in 1994 on a warrant out of New Mexico, she was already established at her home and shop at 904 SE Fifth Ave. in Delray Beach. The accusations in New Mexico were much the same then as they are now: clients complaining she duped them into giving her their money under the guise she would cleanse it of evil.

Several former clients in Florida who later became upset about Linda Marks took their complaints to the police. Some talked with Makler and assert he and other Delray officers steered them away from filing charges.

Chandler said she called Makler when Marks stopped paying her back. Several times he intervened and got Marks to continue paying, she said. Chandler recalled that when she asked Makler to put Marks out of business, his response was that if he did that she wouldn't get back her money.

"How was she able to stay open and still do this to other people? I just don't get it," Chandler said.

Marks acknowledged that she paid back money given to her by many clients after they complained. Many had written agreements with her.

Makler said he has pursued getting money back for numerous victims in cases of all sorts and is proud of his track record.

"Our first responsibility is to the victims 90 percent of the time, the people who are the victims, they'd rather go for the restitution [rather than an arrest]," he said.

Delray Chief Schroeder said his detectives were simply following unwritten guidelines from the State Attorney's Office that when a victim in such cases would be offered repayment, the case would no longer be regarded as criminal.

Mike Edmondson, spokesman for State Attorney Barry Krischer, said he's not aware of such a guideline and noted that no police agency has made a formal presentation of any allegations to his office of Marks defrauding her clients.

"When there's an unwritten rule and it comes to question, it's very easy to say the rule never existed," Schroeder said.

As early as 1996, suspicions had been raised about the relationship between the Markses and Makler. An internal memo from a member of an unofficial "Gypsy Crimes Task Force" shows that a veteran police officer had issues with the Marks' relationship with Makler, who for years was a detective assigned to investigate white collar crimes, including several complaints about Linda Marks. None was prosecuted.

The memo from task force member William Atkinson, then a sergeant with the Palm Beach Police Department and now a detective with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, described a visit to the Marks residence with a probation officer seeking Linda Marks. She had called the probation office to report carpet installers were coming to her house so she couldn't make her appointment there.

When task force members and the probation officer arrived, they found that Marks was gone and instead Makler was in the house supervising the carpet installers, according to the memo. Later, Atkinson said, Makler was sighted watching the task force members in his unmarked police cruiser. The officers drove around and determined that the detective was following them.

"I would strongly suggest that sensitive intelligence information regarding any ["Gypsy case"] NOT be transmitted to the Delray Beach Police Department by any of our detectives or our intelligence analysts under further notice," Atkinson wrote. "Makler is assigned ALL cases or complaints involving gypsies per his lieutenant."

"It seemed odd, and I wanted my agency to proceed with caution in transmitting intelligence on Gypsy culture crimes in view of the odd observations," Atkinson said last month. "It was not something I had observed before in my [23 years of] experience as a police officer."

Makler said comments about him by Atkinson and other members of that task force reflect an old disagreement. "I felt what they were doing was totally illegal," Makler said.

He said that he has not been friends with the Markses and that his only dealings with them have been as a police officer. Linda and James Marks were arrested in May on charges unrelated to her dealings with clients. They were charged in May with insurance fraud, grand theft and filing a false report for allegedly reporting their truck as stolen, only to have it turn up in a storage locker they rented in Deerfield Beach.

Silver, the attorney, said the police are as responsible as Linda Marks for the financial woes that have befallen his clients. The idea that Marks' willingness to repay or partially repay former customers prevented her from being arrested is absurd, Silver said.

"They can break into your house, the police can catch them, and if they agree to pay it back then it's OK - even if they did it 100 times. That's the way the Delray police is handling this matter," he said. "This is worse than breaking into a house. She broke into their minds."

For her part, Marks blames Silver for her predicament.

"This Barry Silver has been hunting me down like a witch hunter," she said. "He thinks I'm bigger than [Osama] bin Laden. I didn't do no crime. I didn't hurt nobody."

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