A south Florida woman who bilked a Chilmark woman out of millions of dollars by telling her she was exorcising demons was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Boston Wednesday to 26 months in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney General’s office.
Sally Ann Johnson, who had aliases of Angela Johnson and Angelia Johnson, was also ordered to repay more than $3.5 million that was paid by the elderly woman. Ms. Johnson, 41, was also ordered to make restitution of $725,912 to the Internal Revenue Service.
She pleaded guilty in October to attempting to interfere with the administration of income tax laws.
According to the U.S. Attorney, 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.” From 2007 to 2014, Johnson was paid over $3.5 million by an elderly woman living in Chilmark.
As The Times reported previously, the woman’s scheme was uncovered by Chilmark police Sgt. Sean Slavin. The officer believed the woman was being taken advantage of by Ms. Johnson.
“Sgt. Slavin, believing that the woman was criminally being taken advantage of, tried to pursue the case at the district court level. When the case did not appear applicable in the district court, Sgt. Slavin passed his investigation along to the FBI,” Chilmark Police Chief Jonathan Klaren wrote in a memo to selectmen in October. “While the FBI was the lead on this case and the resulting conviction is a result of their thorough investigation, I believe Sgt. Slavin’s relentless and meticulous initial investigative steps were a vital part of the FBl’s successful prosecution of this case.”
In October, Chilmark released a heavily redacted police report that indicated how Sgt. Slavin became aware of the theft. He initially interviewed the woman after she called to report she’d been robbed by a housecleaner. The sergeant later found those allegations not credible. At an interview at the woman’s home, Sgt. Slavin wrote that she showed behavior consistent with Alzheimer’s disease, and that the victim’s house was in a state of transition for an impending move. The woman told Sgt. Slavin that the move was stalled because she was waiting for her “healer” to help “get rid of the demons.”
According to the report, Sgt. Slavin inquired if demons referred to drugs or alcohol, or evil spirits. The victim “indicated demons more along the lines of evil spirits,” Sgt. Slavin wrote in his report. When he asked how much money the victim had spent to purge the demons, the woman told him, “Probably over $20,000.”
Sgt. Slavin contacted the woman’s brother, who verified that she suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and that he believed she’d been bilked for closer to $150,000. He would later tell police the woman’s finances showed Ms. Johnson had taken more than $3.5 million.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Ms. Johnson purportedly told the woman, who has never been identified, she would perform spiritual cleansing and healing services to rid her of demons through repeated exorcisms. Rather than reporting her income to the IRS and paying taxes on it, Johnson took steps to conceal it. Specifically, Johnson used an alias and directed the woman to send payments to at least three different bank accounts with which Johnson was associated, including an account in another person’s name. Johnson then withdrew large portions of the woman’s payments from the accounts in cash. In addition, Johnson 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 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.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra Bower and Brian Pérez-Daple of U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s Criminal Division prosecuted the case.