BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — Police and a city board are looking into complaints that one of the city’s best known fortunetellers has been attempting to charge customers and, in one instance, may have been paid to remove evil curses.
Fatima’s Psychic Studio, at 6 Hawthorne Blvd., has been ordered to appear at an Oct. 28 meeting of the city’s Licensing Board to respond to a report by a special police investigator.
In a related case, a Salem detective is looking into allegations that a customer from New York state, who visited Fatima’s several times this summer, paid a fortuneteller $16,800 “to have a shield placed over him to protect him” and to “channel angels,” according to the report Detective Sgt. James Page filed with the board last night.
Page said there are no similar complaints against any other city fortunetellers or psychics.
Fatima’s, which has been in business more than 20 years, was issued a cease and desist order Oct. 10 after police, in the course of the investigation, discovered it had been operating without a license for about a year.
Harry Mitchell, owner of Fatima’s, appeared before the board last night but was not asked about specific allegations. He was told to return for the next meeting prepared to answer questions in the report.
“You should probably get a lawyer,” said Chairman Robert St. Pierre.
In his brief appearance, Mitchell told the board he has always been licensed but forgot to renew his license last year. In an interview after the meeting, he said the board usually mailed renewal notices but did not this past year.
When asked after the meeting by a reporter about the charges of removing evil curses for a fee, Mitchell denied any wrongdoing and said he was “in discussions” with one of the persons who brought a complaint.
“It’s all the other readers complaining about me because I’m a gypsy,” Mitchell said.
According to the report, he told police that one complaint was due to a “misunderstanding and that he would speak with the reader to make sure it did not happen again.”
Page’s investigation cited four complaints made to police: one from 2003, another from 2012 and two recent ones.
On Oct. 3, the most recent incident, City Solicitor Beth Rennard told police that a New Jersey man complained that he went to Fatima’s in August and was told he had a curse that the fortuneteller would remove for $500. The man said he declined the offer and a few days later received a telephone call at his home from the reader asking again if he wanted the curse removed. For a second time, the man said he turned her down.
Page said there were several common themes in the complaints: “all (the customers) are from out of town; all had the reader tell them they were cursed; all were solicited a fee for the removal of the curse; and all but one did not wish to pursue a criminal complaint.”
Under a city ordinance, fortunetelling is defined as “the telling of fortunes, forecasting of futures or reading the past...”
“The ordinance does not include removing of curses or evil from a person,” Page stated in his report.
Page’s report concluded that Fatima’s “is operating a business outside of their license and in contradiction to the city of Salem Code of Ordinances.”
The Oct. 28 meeting has been called to discuss the renewal of Fatima’s fortunetelling license.
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.