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Four family members facing conspiracy charges in alleged scheme

It goes without saying that when family members work together as a team, the result of that collective effort is usually better than if they each worked alone. But if that work is an alleged criminal conspiracy scheme, conspiring with other family members to commit the crime will probably result in severe consequences.

In Oregon, a woman operating psychic shops in Portland and other nearby locations was recently arrested for allegedly bilking money from a Gaston tree-farm heir. The prosecutors have accused the defendant as the mastermind of a fraud scheme to steal from the rich man's estate, control his $20 million in assets and leave him with only $200,000. The suspected scheme was performed with the help of the woman's two daughters and nephew. The Oregon psychic and other family members are all facing conspiracy charges including committing transactional money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and engaging in transactions in criminally deprived property. The woman has also been accused of possibly taking advantage of a second victim, by allegedly convincing him to lease her a car by falsely claiming she would marry that individual.

However, the case has now seen an unexpected twist after a U.S. Magistrate Judge ruled to release the woman from custody, though ordering her to wear a GPS-monitoring bracelet. The judge also decided that the defendant may stay in a halfway house. A federal public defender argued that her client has no criminal history. The defense also pointed out that the Gaston-tree farm heir willingly gave the money to the defendant as a token of his appreciation for their care and companionship.

A federal criminal charge concerning conspiracy and fraud may result in a long prison term and other penalties for the defendant. However, if the victim of alleged conspiracy believed that he or she was not the victim of the said crime, the prosecution's case against the defendant could be weakened. An aggressive defense team may also be able to use this information as part of the defense strategy.

Source: Oregon Live, "Oregon psychic accused of bilking tree heir can stay at halfway house, judge says," Helen Jung, June 18, 2014

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