Recently, Leslie Lee, of Culver City, was arrested on suspicion of grand theft which involved at least three victims. According to investigators, the suspect ran a psychic reading business in Culver City where she prayed on vulnerable people. It’s believed the suspect would inform her victims that they were the target of a curse, then she’d require additional money in order to remove it. She would use items including eggs and bananas to determine the strength of the curse that the victim was supposedly suffering from, then coax exorbitant amounts of money to perform additional rituals that she said would remove the curse from the victim.

According to police, scams like this aren’t uncommon and physically or emotionally vulnerable people are often targeted. Leslie Lee was arrested and taken into custody, though she was released later that day on $45,000 bail. Investigators are asking anyone who believes they may have been a victim to come forward.

Grand theft is covered under California Penal Code 487 PC and is described as the unlawful taking of someone else’s property which is valued at $950 or more. Some examples of actions that can lead to charges of grand theft include:

  • Shoplifting expensive items, such as jewelry
  • Embezzling funds from an employer
  • Breaking into a home or building and stealing expensive items once inside

Grand theft is a “wobbler” in California, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. Generally, those who are convicted of misdemeanor grand theft face up to 1 year in county jail. When charged as a felony, the potential penalties are increased to include 16 months to 3 years in county jail.

However, when the item that was stolen is a firearm, the potential penalty is increased significantly to include 16 months to 3 years in California state prison.