The husband of Sandra Marks, aka Psychic Catherine, was sentenced to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay $5.5 million in restitution to the clients seeking spiritual solace the couple bilked.
Donnie Marks, 43, who was charged with mail fraud and money laundering, appeared in the same U.S. District Court February 10 where his wife was sentenced to 30 months in prison in November.
The couple ran Readings by Catherine on U.S. 29 North, and Sandra Marks, 42, offered palm, tarot card, astrological and spiritual readings, and he was the money manager.
When Sandra Marks was sentenced, her attorney contended she would still be doing $35 palm readings had she not crossed paths with Master Charles Cannon in 2003. Cannon introduced her to his Nelson County spiritual retreat, Synchronicity, and to clients with higher incomes.
Donnie Marks’ attorney, Fred Heblich, objected to one of the points in the pre-sentencing report, because the criminal conduct occurred at Synchronicity. Sandra Marks was there every day, and her husband didn’t know what was happening there, he said.
Prosecutor Ron Huber disagreed, and said Marks was managing his wife’s work. “I would say they were equals with different skills,” he said. “Hers was to persuade, face to face. His was finance and opening accounts. I think they’re equally culpable.”
Huber did acknowledge that Sandra “definitely had closer ties to Synchronicity. I don’t think they were fond of him. I don’t think they were interested in him.”
The couple used the money they obtained from victims who were “looking for hope and relief” to support a “lavish lifestyle,” said Huber. “Sandra Marks never had the ability to cleanse money. What they did have was the power to swindle people.”
In discussing probation, Huber expressed some concerns that with limited education and “lifelong ties to the gypsy lifestyle,” and that Marks would “return to a life of crime.” Judge Glen Conrad ordered Marks to get a full-time job upon his release and not be self-employed.
Huber and Conrad commended Marks on his cooperation with authorities. And Conrad noted that six family members were there.
Marks addressed the court before he was sentenced. “For the past 26 to 28 months, me and my family have grown to realize the extent of hurt. If I could turn back the clock, I would. I will do my best to make amends and restitution.”
He did not complete a financial statement, said Huber, and Marks told the court he was not able to begin the restitution.
“This was pretty serious stuff and the victims were hurt to a serious degree,” said Conrad. He ordered Marks to file the financial statement within 10 days and to begin restitution payments while in prison, using income from a prison job. And he ordered a “rigorous” four years of probation.
“I believe he is remorseful,” said Heblich outside the courthouse. Marks will self-report to prison.