Woman accepts guilt in defrauding psychicBy Josh O'Gorman STAFF WRITER | July 14,2009BURLINGTON – An East Arlington woman pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges she defrauded a psychic out of as much as $200,000.
Denise M. Hall, 51, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Burlington before Chief Judge William K. Sessions III to charges of wire fraud and filing a false tax return, which all stem from her embezzlement of money from self-proclaimed "spiritual medium" Rosemary Altea.
Altea, a British-born author and teacher who maintains a home and office in Dorset, has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and CNN's "Larry King Live."
According to her Web site, she is a faith healer who operates healing centers in Great Britain and the United States. In 2003, she won a court battle for the rights to a 580-acre property in Ira, valued at $720,000 at the time, after one of her longtime students left it to Altea in her will, claiming the student wanted it to be used for a spiritual center.
According to records filed in federal court, from 2001 until 2008, Hall worked as Altea's bookkeeper. During that time, records stated, Hall used four different credit cards issued to Altea and drew cash advances and used convenience checks, all without Altea's knowledge.
Hall also created a bank account in Altea's name and transferred money from one of Altea's accounts to the new account and used those funds to pay for the unauthorized credit card bills, affidavits state.
Hall also pleaded guilty to filing a false income tax return in 2005, when she claimed a taxable income of $54,570 while knowing she had earned more than that, records state.
Hall is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 26.
The wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison while the tax fraud charge carries a three-year penalty.
"Denise has, from the very beginning, cooperated with the investigation in every way asked and has taken full responsibility for her actions," said Hall's attorney David F. Silver of Bennington. "This is something that was out of character for her and aside from this one incident she has always been a loyal employee and loving wife and mother."
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Darrow declined comment.
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