Wood-Ridge psychic accused of bilking client out of more than $120,000

North Jersey.com News/ January 30, 2014

By Allison Pries

Upper Saddle River -- She promised to get rid of “demons” and help a sick child. All she needed was some personal information — such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, names of relatives.

But authorities say it was a scam manufactured by a Bergen County psychic to bilk her client of more than $120,000.

Now, 43-year-old Cathy Johnson, of Wood-Ridge is wanted by police on charges of theft by deception, trafficking in personal information and witness tampering, authorities said Thursday.

“She knows she’s in trouble,” said Upper Saddle River Detective Lt. Ed Kane, adding a warrant was issued for Johnson’s arrest Wednesday. “And I think she’s running from the police.”

Johnson works as a psychic or spiritualist out of two Route 17 South offices – one in Wood-Ridge and the other in Rochelle Park.

Police received a tip from a “concerned citizen” on Jan. 23, Kane said, that beginning in 2011 the victim visited Johnson at her Wood-Ridge location. Johnson befriended the victim and offered to help rid her and her family of “demons,” and promised to help a sick child related to the victim, police said.

Johnson told the victim that she needed all of the victim’s personal identification documents – including driver’s license and birth certificate – and all the victim’s relatives’ names and dates of birth, Kane said.

Police say Johnson also prevented the victim from speaking to friends and the police regarding their relationship. As the scam progressed, Johnson enlisted the help of three men – her stepfather, Nicholas Demetro, 59, of Paramus, and twin brothers, Jimmy Horvath, 44, of Avenel, and Johnny Horvath, 44, of Belleville. The Horvaths relationship with Johnson is unclear, Kane said.

The three men were arrested Wednesday after attempting to cash a $50,000 check from the victim. They were charged with third degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception. They are free after having posted $50,000 bail each, police said.

The Lodi and Wood-Ridge Police Departments, along with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office assisted with the investigation.

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