Nancy Marks, bogus psychic, claims she remains in jail because she's disabled

Nancy Marks, a onetime psychic convicted of fraud for allegedly bilking clients out of approximately $300,000, has been accused of faking an illness in the past. Now, however, doctors cited in a lawsuit filed by prominent attorney David Lane say Marks has a legitimate ailment that confines her to a wheelchair -- and the complaint maintains that state agencies have responded by keeping her in prison as opposed to allowing her to move into a halfway house or community-corrections setting. Get the unusual details, plus photos, a video and the complete document below. As we reported in a May 2010 post, Marks, who was based in Lafayette, reportedly used her mental powers to separate customers from their cash by persuading them that "money is evil." She also allegedly asked for their credit card numbers in order to make sure they didn't include too many sixes, a number she considered problematic.

She must have been pretty convincing, because prosecutors accused her of siphoning more than $300,000 from assorted victims, including $50,000 in cash and credit-card charges from a single man.

Cut to October 2011, when Marks was scheduled to go to trial. But the proceedings didn't go forward for reasons detailed in the following excerpt from our followup post:

Marks had been fitted with a GPS ankle monitor -- a device she allegedly said she couldn't wear due to health problems that were later shown to be bogus. Thanks to the gadget, authorities know she flitted around the area on Sunday, as if nothing was awry. But at 9:30 p.m., she checked herself into North Suburban Medical Center in Thornton. She was released around 3 a.m. the following morning, but two hours later, she headed to Rose Medical Center in Denver.

Rose wasn't exactly the closest facility; prosecutors say she passed seven hospitals to get there. However, her attorney says Marks' doctor has admitting privileges there. She added that Marks was suffering from nausea, breathing difficulties and high-blood pressure that could have been caused by stress.
While that court session didn't happen, the postponement only delayed the inevitable. That December, a jury reportedly found Marks guilty on fourteen counts of fraud and tax evasion, and in February 2012, she was sentenced to five years behind bars.

Even then, Marks says she was experiencing health problems.

Continue for more about Nancy Marks's lawsuit, including a video and the complete document. In December 2011, the lawsuit says Marks "was in a serious car accident that caused severe spinal trauma" -- so much so that during her stay with the Colorado Department of Corrections, she used a walker to get around. By September 2012, the document says the CDOC recognized that she "fell into the class of persons with a mobility disability" and approved her request for a wheelchair.

A few months later, in December, Marks entered a residential program. But the suit says she fell again after her arrival, exacerbating her condition, which continued to deteriorate. By early 2013, her medical provider sent a letter arguing that she "must be placed on bed rest and advising that she apply for disability benefits."

In response, the suit contends that supervisors at the residential center "immediately decided to send Ms. Marks back to prison." The reason, according to a letter excerpted in the suit, is because she would be unable to work -- one of the requirements for those in a community-corrections setting.

As such, Marks went back behind bars and she's been there ever since -- a situation that attorney Lane considers a blatant violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"Under the ADA, if you're either disabled or perceived to have a disability and are denied the benefit of government programs, that's a violation," Lane says.

His reference to perception is key. Lane says he's seen no reason to doubt that Marks's health problems are very real. But in his view, the legitimacy of her ailments isn't a matter of debate, since the state has already confirmed in writing that she's seen as disabled. Therefore, he argues that she's clearly protected by the ADA -- and the state is treating her improperly under its provisions.

"Their rationale is, 'You're required to work in community corrections,' but she can't work -- so they sent her back to prison. And the only reason she can't work is because of her disability."

In April, Lane says he sent a letter to Rick Raemish, the Colorado Department of Corrections' executive director, outlining the situation and asking that he resolve it -- but he didn't receive a response. "So they bought themselves the lawsuit," Lane allows. "We alerted them to the problem, they did nothing, so here we go off to federal court."

A 2012 CBS4 report broadcast after Marks's sentencing states that she perceived herself to be a victim even as people were testifying about the financial distress she'd visited upon them. If that's the case, some folks may not see her as a sympathetic figure. But in Lane's view, none of that matters.

"She behaved herself in prison, did what was required of her, earned her way to a halfway house, which is a much freer environment than prison, and then they took it away from her because she's disabled," he says. "And you can't deny the benefit of programs to people because they're disabled any more than you can because of their race.

"She's not looking for special treatment," he adds. "She's looking for compliance with federal law."

Here's a larger look at Marks's booking photo, followed by the aforementioned CBS4 report and the complete lawsuit.

Nancy Marks Complaint

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa October 2011: "Nancy Marks, alleged money-bilking psychic: Did she foresee 'illness' that delayed trial?"

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts