Kenner psychic avoids prison for scam

The Times-Picayune, Louisiana/June 13, 2013

State District Judge Reginald Badeaux looked into a fortuneteller's future Wednesday, and he saw a small room behind barred doors if she ever breaks the law again. Lecia Urich, a Kenner palm reader and self-proclaimed psychic who often goes by the name "Sister Jackson, " received a suspended sentence Wednesday for trying to scam a Slidell businesswoman out of $5,000 in July 2004.

Urich, who had pleaded guilty in the 22nd Judicial District Court in Covington earlier Wednesday to attempted theft of more than $500, had told the woman that a ritual that involved burying the money would help lift a deadly curse.

Badeaux gave her a suspended sentence of one year in prison and placed her on supervised probation for a year. The judge also fined Urich $250 plus court costs and warned her to refrain from fraudulent activity.

The victim, now 58, said the sentence wasn't enough. "I'm very disappointed in the state of Louisiana and their laws, " said the Slidell resident, who asked not to be identified. "But I'm glad she pleaded guilty, because she was."

Urich, who operated a parlor at 3120 Williams Blvd., was arrested at her Georgia Avenue home on July 13, 2004. Several other theft charges followed after other victims came forward to describe similar schemes, including an 87-year-old Kenner woman who said Urich swindled her out of $37,000.

Kenner police said Urich told four customers that their enemies had put curses on them and offered to dispel the hexes for a total of $7,100, which she said she would bury in a church or cemetery.

In one of those cases, she allegedly told a man in January 2004 he would lose his job, wife and family unless he gave her his $3,500 savings.

In February 2004 a West Jefferson woman who was depressed about her divorce visited the parlor. Urich persuaded her to hand over $700 so she could take it home and pray over it. Several days later, when the woman asked for the money back, Urich allegedly said more time was needed to lift the curse.

Jefferson Parish court records show Urich pleaded guilty March 8 to two counts of theft of more than $300; one count was dismissed. She was given a suspended sentence of two years in prison and put on probation for two years.

The Slidell businesswoman sat for a psychic reading by Urich at the Lacombe Crab Festival on July 5, 2004. Urich told the woman that a curse doomed her to a horrible death and asked her to call back the next day for a remedy, police said.

The next day Urich offered to perform the $5,000 ceremony. But the businesswoman called Slidell police, who installed hidden cameras and microphones in the psychic's parlor for a sting operation.

Detectives gave the informant $5,000 in marked bills, and Urich arrived with a candle, a bag of dirt and a banana. She rubbed the fruit over the woman's body in an apparent attempt to check for a wire, police said.

Urich put the banana in the bag of dirt with the money, saying she would bury it later, police said. But when a detective called the informant and asked her to stall, Urich got suspicious, according to police.

Urich gave the money back and left. Detectives took down her vehicle's license plate number and obtained a warrant for her arrest.

Two years later the Slidell woman said she is still angry about the attempted con. "There are a lot of vulnerable people in the world, " she said, "and people like her take advantage of people like me."

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