'Psychic' gets 2 months in bilking of $108,000

The San Francisco Chronicle/December 10, 2008

A San Francisco woman who advertised herself as a psychic has been sentenced to two months in jail for bilking a love-sick customer out of $108,000 and talking her into buying her a sports car in exchange for purifying her of evil spirits, Santa Clara County authorities said Tuesday.

Lisa Marie Miller, 27, of San Francisco victimized a woman who "sought her out because she was in love with a fellow who was not returning her affection," said Deputy District Attorney Cherie Bourlard. The woman contacted Miller in 2005 after seeing a newspaper ad that offered a $10 reading.

Miller convinced the woman that she was cursed and needed "spiritual cleansing," authorities said. The woman gave Miller $108,000 from her checking, savings and retirement accounts as well as cash, jewelry and gift cards. She also financed a Corvette for Miller, authorities said.

The woman finally figured out something was wrong when she read media accounts that Miller's mother-in-law, 56-year-old Lola Miller of San Jose, had been arrested for taking $450,000 in cash and services from a San Jose woman. Lola Miller, who went by the name "Miss Donna," read the victim's fortune, told her that she and family members were cursed and that she would cleanse them of evil for money. She also threatened the victim.

Putting two and two together, the woman bilked by Lisa Miller tried to contact the supposed psychic, but her calls were not returned. At that point, the woman went to authorities.

Lisa Miller pleaded no contest in September to one count of theft by false pretense. A Santa Clara County judge sentenced her to two months in jail and five years of probation. The judge also ordered her to pay full restitution, of which she has already paid $61,000, authorities said.

Miller was also barred from ever again engaging in fortune telling, psychic readings, tarot card readings, love spell castings, palm readings and spiritual advising.

Lola Miller is to be sentenced in January after pleading guilty in August to two counts of grand theft. Her victim has since died of cancer, and her widower has said he will contribute any restitution received to cancer research.

A third member of the family is also facing psychic-related criminal charges. Lisa Miller's sister-in-law, Danielle Miller, 23, is accused of bilking $36,000 from a woman to cleanse her of evil, prosecutors said.

Danielle and Lisa Miller are married to Lola Miller's sons, authorities said.

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