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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., recently announced the guilty plea of JANET MILLER, 39, for stealing more than $650,000 from a woman whom she claimed she could help spiritually. The defendant pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, and is expected to be sentenced on June 12, 2013.

“Larceny is larceny, no matter what form it takes – fraud by a spiritual advisor is no different than fraud committed by an attorney, an accountant, or any other person who gains an individual’s trust in order to steal from him or her,” said District Attorney Vance. “My Office’s Special Prosecutions Bureau handles all manner of cases involving defendants who prey upon those in a vulnerable state, from immigrants to the elderly.”

As admitted in her guilty plea, and according to court records, MILLER first met the victim, a business owner, in July 2011 at an apartment on East 41st Street in Manhattan. At this meeting, MILLER claimed to possess spiritual powers, and told the victim that people were cheating, deceiving, and stealing money from her, and that the defendant could help. MILLER also told the victim that she could see the victim’s dead grandmother crying. The defendant requested $900 from the victim in order to purchase materials to make a shield to block the devil; the victim paid her $400. MILLER gave the woman water that was purported to be holy, as well as oils, salt, and crystals, and then began communicating with the victim on a near-daily basis.

Between July 2011 and August 2012, the victim, at the direction of the defendant, repeatedly gave MILLER money for items the she claimed were needed to protect the victim and ward off the devil. She also gave MILLER numerous items of jewelry the victim owned and purchased, at the defendant’s direction, two Rolex watches to give to the defendant.

Over the course of the period charged in the indictment, MILLER became the victim’s confidante. The victim’s father developed cancer, which MILLER claimed she could help cure. MILLER also persuaded the victim that her money was cursed and unclean, and that the defendant was capable of cleansing it. She asked the victim to withdraw more than $600,000 from her bank account in cash and give it to MILLER, claiming she would take the money to a mountain to perform cleansing procedures. MILLER was expected to return the money within a matter of weeks, but returned only a small portion of it.

Assistant District Attorney Om Gillett handled the prosecution of this case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Judy Salwen, Deputy Chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau, Thomas Wornom, Chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney David M. Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Trial Preparation Assistant Colleen MacPhee assisted with the case.

District Attorney Vance thanked Detective Daniel Casey of the 17th Precinct’s Detective Squad.

Defendant Information:

JANET MILLER, D.O.B. 7/19/73
New York, N.Y.

• Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count