Woman pleads guilty in ‘exorcism’ case

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BOSTON – A south Florida woman, who claimed to be a psychic, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Boston to hiding more than $3.5 million of income that she was paid by an elderly Martha’s Vineyard woman to “rid her of demons through repeated exorcisms,” according to a press release issued by acting U.S. Attorney William Weinreb’s office.

Sally Ann Johnson, 41,  who had several aliases, pleaded guilty to attempting to interfere with the administration of the Internal Revenue Service laws.

Ms. Johnson owned and operated various businesses, including Flatiron Psychic, Psychic Match, Inc., and Psychic Spiritual Salon, Inc., all of which purported to offer “psychic readings,” “spiritual cleansing & strengthening,” and “meditation & healing,” the press release states. From 2007 to 2014, Johnson was paid over $3.5 million by an elderly woman living on Martha’s Vineyard, whose name was not released, to perform spiritual cleansing and healing services to rid the woman of demons through repeated exorcism, the release states.

Rather than reporting her income to the IRS and paying taxes on it, Ms. Johnson took steps to conceal it. Specifically, Ms. Johnson used an alias and directed the woman to send payments to at least three different bank accounts with which Ms. Johnson was associated, including an account in another person’s name.Ms.  Johnson then withdrew large portions of the woman’s payments from the accounts in cash. In addition, she accrued substantial charges on a credit card held in the name of the elderly woman, who ultimately paid the credit card bills, thereby concealing from the IRS the true extent of Ms. Johnson’s income. Neither Johnson nor any of the businesses she operated filed a tax return or paid taxes on the income she received from the woman.

Ms. Johnson agreed to repay $3,567,300 to the Martha’s Vineyard woman and to pay restitution to the IRS for the taxes she avoided from 2007 to 2014 as part of the plea agreement, according to the release.

U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper scheduled sentencing for Jan. 17, 2018. She could face no more than three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss caused by the offense, and restitution, the release states. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Chilmark police provided assistance with the federal investigation, the release states.