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Fortunetellers Charged With Fraud For Promising Eternal Salvation

February 11, 1988 GMT

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) _ An elderly woman turned over thousands of dollars, jewelry and a new car to fortunetellers promising eternal salvation and release from curses in a scheme that may involve many victims, authorities said.

Charges have been filed against three people and one arrest has been made, East Peoria Detective Steve Deatherage said Wednesday. Police were still searching for the two others.

″I don’t know how many victims are involved,″ Deatherage said. ″We’re starting to get a lot of calls all of a sudden.

″With all the victims we’re going to have, I’d estimate the losses will be more than $100,000.″

Felony theft warrants, carrying bonds of $100,000 each, have been issued against Ann L. Corricelli, 24, of East Peoria, and Marie ″Lena″ Wilson, 52, and Joe L. Marks, 37, both of Galesburg.

The charges, filed Tuesday in Peoria County, allege the three were involved in an ongoing theft from the unidentified elderly Peoria woman from June 1986 to January 1988.

Convictions on the charges carry penalties of two to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Prosecutors alleged that the three obtained money, jewelry and a new car from the woman by deception.

″They took a little bit of everything,″ said Darilynn Krauss, assistant state’s attorney in charge of the case. ″The victims of these people are not crazy. This is not insanity. They are just vulnerable for some reason.″

The three promised ″they could raise the souls of her two deceased husbands from hell to heaven and help her money multiply if she did as she was told,″ said the complaint.

Also, Marks and Wilson were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit theft resulting from an incident Saturday in which they are accused of ordering the woman to bring them $300.

Police declined to release further details.

Only Marks has been arrested. The others vanished when they began to suspect a police investigation, Deatherage said.

″They prey on people, mainly elderly women, who they catch in an emotional state, like after a death in the family,″ Deatherage said.

″They tell these women they are cursed and convince them they need the foretuneteller’s help. Money is usually the power to release the curse. Some people just flat believe in fortunetelling.″