A Pennsylvania woman went on trial on Monday for the rarely prosecuted offence of fortune-telling.
She was accused of persuading a client she could lift a cloud of “spells and curses” in exchange for payments that likely reached thousands of dollars.
April Uwanawich, 38, of Philadelphia faces 55 counts of fortune telling, theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas.
According to police complaint she was accused of approaching Jennifer Gardiner in 2009 at a convenience store, where she identified herself as a fortune teller saying she could rid Gardiner of her “dark cloud,”
During the following two years, Gardiner met with Uwanawich on a regular basis, continually paying Uwanawich to work on her life, to rid it of evil and to get rid of spells and curses.
Gardiner was persuaded to stop taking prescribed mental health medication and to buy candles, oils, perfumes and crystals to help ward off evil spirits, the complaint said.
Her financial loss probably ran into “tens of thousands of dollars” but only about 10,000 dollars could be verified, the record said.
Uwanawich has two previous arrests for fortune-telling fraud in Chester County, according to court records.
She pleaded guilty in 2009 to stealing 23,000 dollars from a woman to remove a curse and in 2011 to taking 35,000 dollars from another woman to remove a dark cloud over her head.
She was ordered to pay court costs in the first case and received two years of probation in the second, records showed.
Uwanawich faces a cumulative life sentence if convicted of all 55 counts and sentenced to the maximum on each.
The state’s fortune-telling statute bans fortune-telling for money as well as the use of “spells, charms, necromancy or incantation” in the perpetration of fraud.
Report says Uwanawich may have more fortune-telling arrests than anyone else in the state in the 21st century.
The report cited legal research saying fortune-telling was so rarely prosecuted that the state’s appellate courts have never ruled on an appeal.


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