Salem, MA. – Despite various complaints against Fatima’s Psychic Studio, the Licensing Board renewed their fortunetelling license on Oct. 29th. The complaints include a customer who paid them over $16,000 to have a protective shield placed over him and others who paid large sums of money to remove curses.
Although the board “reluctantly” decided to renew their license, they did place them on a probation period. This period will last until the end of the year. In an unforeseen move, the board’s lead investigator, Detective Sgt. James Paige began the hearing by retracting the police complaint. Paige couldn’t bring a complaint against the psychic because the business wasn’t licensed when two recent alleged incidents occurred.
Fatima’s Psychic Studio was on the board getting reviewed and investigated because several customers complained about them to authorities. When investigators looked into the situation, they discovered that Fatima’s fortunetelling license had expired over a year ago. Fatima’s illegally running a business without the proper permit worked in their favor, much to Paige’s dismay.
“I don’t think you can ethically bring a charge of violation of a (fortunetelling) license because they didn’t have a valid license at the time,” said Paige. Paige filed the complaint against the psychic studio on October 10th, and the court retracted it on October 29th. It involved four alleged violations that went back as far as 2003. Two of the four were more serious.
The Complaints Against Fatima Were Unlike Any Other
Paige states that no other psychics and fortunetellers in Salem have any complaints against them like the ones against Fatima. One of the more serious allegations against the psychic studio comes from a West Henrietta, N.Y. man. He told police that his first visit to Fatima’s was in August 2013. He ended up paying an employee there named Debbie over $16,000 for several weeks for a protective shield. She convinced him he needed this shield and “channel angels.”
It’s unknown whether authorities will do anything about the man’s complaint. Police Detective Dennis Gaudet is investigating it, though. William Quinn is the lawyer representing Fatima’s Psychic Studio. During the hearing this week, he told the board that a separate attorney in charge of the civil matter told him that “constructive and positive negotiations” occur between the studio and the customer.
He said they expect it will result in an agreement to return the money to him. Even though Paige didn’t go forward with the Licensing Board situation, he did file a court complaint against the studio. The complaint was for operating a business without a license. Violating this ordinance carries a fine of $100 per day.
A Different Psychic Is Called Into The Hearing
During the hearing, the board called a different psychic who had been in the business for 27 years. Her name is Rev. Barbara Szafranski, and she worked for a psychic business called Angelica of the Angels. She stated that several customers came into her business complaining after seeing the psychics at Fatima’s.
Fatima’s psychics would tell them they “had auras that are warped.” However, they were fine when Szafranski checked them out with her “aura machine.” She said she even set up a meeting several years ago with the owner of Fatima’s, Harry Mitchell. The meeting was to let him know about all the complaints she was getting against him.
She told Mitchell during their meeting, “You have to speak to your girls.” “This isn’t just now,” Szafranski told the board, “It’s been going on a wicked long time.” Bill Legault is the councilor-at-large for the board, and he advised them to decline to renew Fatima’s license. Legault felt that the city could not allow a company to take advantage of its customers, especially those that went to them in a “vulnerable state.”
“This has happened in the past multiple times…” said Legault. The Salem police have had several calls from previous customers of Fatima’s since the allegations surfaced this month, claiming the psychic offered them the same service of removing a curse for a hefty price.
These Types Of Cases Are Difficult To Prove
Fatima’s lawyer Quinn stated that Fatima’s Psychic Studio has been operating for 21 years and has only had a handful of complaints. He also added that the most current complaint from the West Henrietta man was the only complaint they have had against them that involves money. Chairman of the board, Robert St. Pierre, felt that the city would more than likely lose in court if they denied giving Fatima’s license back.
They took the case to court because they had no official complaints against them, and the alleged violations happened before when the business was not licensed. He states that they were in a “legal conundrum” in the matter. Even though the board renewed the business license to the studio, St. Pierre made sure to give the owner a stern and serious warning;
“You’re responsible for every one of your readers, and it appears to me that your readers are taking advantage of vulnerable people in a bad state,” he told Mitchell. He stated that the studio was only “escaping the board’s wrath” due to legal technicalities. The board member reminded Mitchell that the city’s ordinance on fortunetelling only allows psychics to read fortunes, not for them to charge money for removing curses.
“This has to stop because it can result, or most likely will result, in criminal charges,” Paige told Mitchell. Harry Mitchell will return to the board in December to request his license renewal for the upcoming year. Please read my previous article about how many accuse Fatima’s Psychic Studio of scamming customers.