Psychic pleads guilty to elder fraud

February 6, 2009 7:27:07 PM PST
There was a surprise guilty plea Friday from a San Mateo County psychic. Janet Adams confessed in court to bilking $93,000 from an 85-year-old woman. The defense says the ABC7 I-Team was a factor in the psychic's decision.

After our report in December, 11 more victims came forward. Prosecutors gave Adams a choice -- plead guilty now to the one count or face additional charges.

We first met Adams, the psychic, on her last day of freedom -- at least for the next several years. In December, we sent an I-Team producer undercover to hear her pitch. The next day, police arrested her for elder fraud. Friday morning in superior court she pleaded guilty.

"And this early plea allows our victims not to have to come to court to testify which is a very difficult thing especially for the elderly victim, who was the original victim in this case," said San Mateo County prosecutor Melissa McKowan.

The 85 year-old victim met Adams a year ago at a kiosk in a San Mateo strip mall. The psychic warned that her husband was going to die unless she came up with $13,000. Adams kept the pressure on until the tab ran up to $93,000.

"One thing that she did today is that she took full responsibility. She's actually very sorry to be in this position again. She's sorry for the harm that she caused," said Robert Byers, Adams' defense attorney.

This is the third time Adams has been convicted for similar crimes, warning people that they or their families would be harmed if she didn't use her psychic abilities to fend off trouble.

In 2003, Adams got $90,000 from a businesswoman who asked not to be identified.

"She got her hooks into me and I couldn't get them out. I thought I could handle it in the beginning and then it just totally snowballed away and I couldn't handle it," said the victim.

After she complained to police, Adams received a suspended sentence of nine months. While on probation, the psychic convinced a 19-year-old woman to hand over more than $14,000. That conviction brought Adams two years at Chowchilla State Prison.

"I just had never met people that are so evil and will take anything from anybody," said the victim.

Friday in court, Adams agreed to a sentence of up to six years. How much time she will serve won't be known until March.

The I-Team reached the husband of the latest victim Friday. His wife is too distraught to comment for this story and doesn't want to be identified, but she's relieved the case is coming to an end.

"In a way, we're sorry it stopped at six years. This is the third time she's been convicted. She's a hazard to society," said the victim's husband.

The prosecutor on the case defends not pursuing more charges against Adams, even with 11 new potential victims.

"Three of those, I think, probably would have resulted in new cases, but when you take the court's calculation of different kinds of sentencing, it wouldn't have resulted in much more time than we had now," said McKowan.

What are the chances of any of the victims getting money back? Apparently, not good. The prosecutor told the I-Team that Adams used the money she got from her clients to live on, and there's nothing's left. The court could garnish her wages in the future and even take any money she might earn while in prison.

There have been a few interesting twists in our other psychic stories, and you can read about that in a new I-Team blog.