Psychic swindler exposed by Chilmark police sergeant

Chilmark Police Chief Jonathan Klaren (left) stands with Chilmark Police Sergeant Sean Slavin at the Tuesday night meeting of the Chilmark board of selectmen. Chief Klaren brought to the board's attention what he described as Sgt. Slavin's exemplary detective work in uncovering a multimillion dollar scam against a Chilmark resident by a self-described psychic. – Rich Saltzberg

Chilmark selectmen praised police Sgt. Sean Slavin Tuesday night for his detailed investigative work on behalf of a Chilmark woman cheated by a South Florida psychic for over $3.5 million. The psychic, 41-year-old Sally Ann Johnson, pled guilty to tax evasion early this month in federal court and agreed not only to pay the IRS what it was due, but to return the millions she’d collected to rid the unidentified Chilmark woman of demons. Ms. Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced in January and faces a maximum of three years in prison and fines of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss her offense caused.

In a memo to the selectmen dated Oct. 13, Chilmark Police Chief Jonathan Klaren wrote about Sgt. Slavin’s doggedness on the case two years ago. “In November 2013, Sgt. Slavin became aware of a Chilmark resident that appeared to have been taken advantage of financially by a woman claiming to provide ‘psychic’ and ‘cleansing’ services,” the chief wrote.

“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,” Chief Klaren wrote. “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.”

The case has garnered attention across the country. The Chilmark woman is referred to as “Jane Doe” in federal documents.

“It’s wonderful that you were able to help out this person,” selectmen chairman Bill Rossi said. “That’s a lot of money that someone was scammed out of.”

“The fact that you were able to get it to the FBI and they took up that cause is a real credit to your work — so thank you,” selectman Warren Doty said.

Sgt. Slavin was in the audience as selectmen congratulated his work. “We have a lot of retirees and older people in town…if they call us, if they feel like something’s wrong, usually we can head it off,” Sgt. Slavin said.