A South Boston woman who says she was taken for $5,000 in cash, gift cards, towels, underwear and electronics by a downtown psychic pleaded with the Boston Licensing Board to make sure nobody else winds up like her.
The board decides tomorrow what action, if any, to take on several police citations against Psychic Visions, 33 Kingston St., including "obtaining property by trick." In addition to overseeing food and liquor licenses, the board also oversees licensing of psychics and fortune tellers.
In an emotionally charged hearing - during which it seemed like a police detective was about to arrest the psychic for admititng she took her sister-in-law's driver's test - the West Broadway resident said she was at a really low point in her life this past summer when somebody at Downtown Crossing handed her a flyer for Psychic Visions.
She said she thought to herself, "Well, maybe I should go and see these people, maybe they can help me figure out some things in my life."
That began three months of frequent visits to the basement studio, illuminated by a neon sign that licensing-board members said was a license violation all on its own.
The woman said that just as her money was running out - and "the badness" still surrounded her - psychic Christina Tene began asking for more than just money. "She said she needed an iPad," she said. "I went to Best Buy, got a charge and got an iPad." Then came a request for two $400 Lord & Taylor gift cards. Then, she said, Tene said she needed towels. And undershirts and socks.
She said it began to dawn on her that maybe things were not quite on the up and up. When she first questioned Tene, she said, Tene told her she was free to stop coming, but warned that meant she would never find happiness. And, she said, Tene told her her late husband communicated that he no longer loved her.
The final straw, the woman said, was when she broke up with a man she'd been seeing despite repeated assurances from Tene that the relationship would work out.
"I couldn't believe I was so foolish, and made such a foolish mistake, but unfortunately, I did," she told the board, beginning to cry. "She talked about evil. She's evil."
Tene painted a different picture. She said neither she nor her sister-in-law, Theresa Miller, who owns the studio, ever hand out flyers. She said the woman continued to come even though she had no money, which is unfair to them as business owners, who need to be paid for their services - from $20 for a palm reading to $120 for an hour of psychic counseling.
And, she continued, the gift cards and all the other purchases were simply gifts, not offerings she demanded.
"I don't know how to use an iPad," she told the board. "I'm computer illiterate."
"Even though you're computer illiterate, you took the iPad?" board member Suzanne Ianella asked.
"Yes, absolutely," Tene replied. "As a gift."
After Tene finished, Boston Police Lt. Stephen Meade, sitting a few feet away from her, held up a photocopy and asked Tene if that were her picture. Tene said it was. Then, Meade asked, what was her picture doing on a driver's license application for her sister-in-law, Miller? Tene admitted that a few years ago, she took Miller's test for a license for her, because Miller is illiterate. But it's all been cleared up, she said.
"That's a felony," Meade said and then stood up. However, he did not arrest Tene. Instead, he walked up to the board and handed them a copy of the license application.
After that, Ianella said she didn't want to hear anything more from Tene. "I think the board has a good understanding of the operation you're running," she said.
In addition to the "property by trick" citation, the board will also decide what action to take, if any, on citations alleging the parlor operates an external neon sign and handing out flyers, both of which are prohibited by the studio's license.