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The Boston Globe

Nation

Trial begins for psychic accused of conning clients

Facing grand larceny charges, 15 years in prison

NEW YORK — When a heartbroken ballroom-dancing instructor who had just lost a job and a businesswoman with an unrequited workplace crush wandered into a fortune-teller’s Greenwich Village shop, the soothsayer foresaw lucrative opportunities — for herself, prosecutors said.

Conjuring past lives, divining ‘‘negative energy,’’ and promising to banish problems through techniques such as stuffing thousands of customers’ dollars in a jar, Sylvia Mitchell bilked the Singaporean businesswoman out of $128,000 and the Florida-based dance instructor out of more than $10,000, prosecutors said as Mitchell’s grand larceny trial opened Thursday.

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