Apr 26, 2016

With Psychic Jailed, Her Family Kept Telling Fortunes

New York Times
APRIL 25, 2016

The storefront of Priscilla Kelly Delmaro,
The storefront of Priscilla Kelly Delmaro
Priscilla Kelly Delmaro sat for months in jail in Rikers Island last year, but her fortunetelling parlor in Times Square did not stay empty for long.

The small shop, at 253 West 43rd Street, where Ms. Delmaro first met a man who would eventually pay her more than $550,000 to reunite him with a dead woman, was up and running as if nothing had happened, with Ms. Delmaro replaced.

On Sunday, the police returned to the parlor and led away another self-proclaimed fortuneteller in handcuffs: Christine Evans, Ms. Delmaro’s mother-in-law. The allegations against Ms. Evans do not come close to rivaling what her daughter-in-law had done; nonetheless, the arrest is a reminder that fortunetelling in New York and elsewhere is often a family affair, with generations of mothers passing the tricks of the trade down to their daughters and, in this case perhaps, their sons’ wives.

Ms. Delmaro, 27, was arrested in May and charged with taking money, sometimes in increments as high as $100,000, from a marketing executive from England temporarily working in New York. The man, Niall Rice, 33, had met a woman in a drug rehabilitation facility in Arizona months earlier and had fallen in love, but she broke it off. Distraught, he first visited a different psychic in Manhattan, then Ms. Delmaro.

When Mr. Rice came to learn that the object of his affections had died of an overdose, Ms. Delmaro continued to promise a reunion with the woman, who she said had been reincarnated into a new body — with the help of special crystals, a time machine and an 80-mile bridge made of gold.

Mr. Rice eventually went to the police and pressed charges. He told detectives he paid $713,975 to the two psychics. He said in an interview in November that he was depressed and desperate at the time, and that he thought he would get his money back in the end.

But during the course of their time together, Mr. Rice slept with Ms. Delmaro once, which legally may have put the criminal case into a gray area, as she could have argued that the money was a gift.

Priscilla Kelly Delmaro pleaded guilty to grand larceny in November.

Ms. Delmaro pleaded guilty to grand larceny in November and was released in January after having spent eight months in jail. Her husband, Bobby Evans, was also arrested in the case, but charges were later dropped.

Her mother-in-law seems to have at some point stepped into her chair behind the crystal ball. On April 9, around 10 p.m., a 23-year-old woman from the Upper West Side, whose name was not released, entered the parlor, drawn in by a flier promising answers to two questions for $10, according to a criminal complaint.

Ms. Evans did a tarot card reading and delivered bad news, according to the complaint: The woman’s mother had been cursed and had passed the curse on to the woman. Ms. Evans asked the woman to go to a nearby Duane Reade and buy a $300 Visa gift card so she could get to work cleansing her spirit, the complaint said. The woman did.

The next day, the woman returned, and Ms. Evans told her she needed a tool for the cleansing, said Bob Nygaard, a private investigator who was later hired by the woman. The tool was a decorative water fountain, a 49-inch tall column of “natural slate and copper” over which water continuously flowed, transforming “a small section of garden or office into a relaxing getaway,” according to a website. It cost $399.39, including overnight shipping, Mr. Nygaard said. The woman bought it.

She also bought Ms. Evans two $500 Visa cards, the complaint said. Ms. Evans asked for money to buy 23 candles, one for each year of the woman’s life, at a cost of $600 per candle, the complaint said. But the woman declined, and by the end of that week, sensing all was not right, she demanded her money back and was refused, Mr. Nygaard said.

The woman was not leaving empty-handed: The water fountain was in the parlor. The woman hauled it outside and, with the help of a passing stranger, got it shipped back to the company and got most of her money back, Mr. Nygaard said.

Detectives from the Midtown South precinct arrested Ms. Evans on Sunday at 6:45 p.m. outside of the parlor, the police said. She was charged with petty larceny, fraud and fortunetelling. She was released on her own recognizance after an arraignment on Monday. Her lawyer, Jeffrey Cylkowski, said she denied the charges.

She gave the police the address of an apartment on West 49th Street as her residence. On Monday, there was a neon sign in the front window of that apartment that read, “Psychic Readings.” A woman answered a reporter’s knock and asked, “Do you want a reading?”

Asked about Ms. Evans, the woman, who said her name was Tina, said she never heard of her. But she said she had only moved into the apartment a week ago.


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