South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Aug. 10, 2002
By Mitch Lipka
For more than a decade, the heartbroken, the ill and those desperate for answers to the unknown sought Linda Marks’ counsel.
“She got me at a very vulnerable time in my life,” said Anna Chandler of Boca Raton. “I would have done anything to have my boyfriend stay.”
Like dozens of others before and since, Chandler handed over money to Marks as a part of a “purification” ritual. Money — former clients said they were told — gave Marks power. They said they were counseled that if they told anyone, bad things would happen to them.
Until a lawsuit was filed in February against Marks, the Delray Beach Police Department and former Detective Jack Makler — who the suit asserted was protecting Marks — these former clients thought all had been lost.
The publicity that followed the lawsuit has swelled the list of angry former clients. It has swelled the complainants who have joined the lawsuit to more than a dozen and led to the disclosure of a seemingly unorthodox relationship between Marks, convicted of fraud, her husband James, also a convicted felon, and Makler.
Now, cases against Linda Marks that had gone dormant for years are again under investigation and Makler’s relationship with the Markses has come under heightened scrutiny. Makler’s old cases are being passed to the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office and an internal affairs investigation is being conducted.
“It’s just snowballing,” said Detective Robert Stevens, who is exploring whether Linda Marks has been running a “continuing scheme to defraud.”
While defending herself, Marks doesn’t completely dismiss the allegations of her disgruntled former clients.
“Half of it is lies, half of it is not lies,” she said. “I’m telling the truth to you.”
Marks denied she conned or duped anyone.
“I don’t force nobody. We become very good friends,” she said. “If they don’t want to believe in my prayers and the word of God, they can walk out the door.
“It’s not like I took the money from them all at one time. I knew them for a long time.”
By the time Marks was picked up in Delray Beach in 1994 on a warrant out of New Mexico, she was already established at her home and shop at 904 SE Fifth Ave. in Delray Beach. The accusations in New Mexico were much the same then as they are now: clients complaining she duped them into giving her their money under the guise she would cleanse it of evil.
Several former clients in Florida who later became upset about Linda Marks took their complaints to the police. Some talked with Makler and assert he and other Delray officers steered them away from filing charges.
Chandler said she called Makler when Marks stopped paying her back. Several times he intervened and got Marks to continue paying, she said. Chandler recalled that when she asked Makler to put Marks out of business, his response was that if he did that she wouldn’t get back her money.
“How was she able to stay open and still do this to other people? I just don’t get it,” Chandler said.
Marks acknowledged that she paid back money given to her by many clients after they complained. Many had written agreements with her.
Makler said he has pursued getting money back for numerous victims in cases of all sorts and is proud of his track record.
“Our first responsibility is to the victim…90 percent of the time, the people who are the victims, they’d rather go for the restitution [rather than an arrest],” he said.
Delray Chief Schroeder said his detectives were simply following unwritten guidelines from the State Attorney’s Office that when a victim in such cases would be offered repayment, the case would no longer be regarded as criminal.
Mike Edmondson, spokesman for State Attorney Barry Krischer, said he’s not aware of such a guideline and noted that no police agency has made a formal presentation of any allegations to his office of Marks defrauding her clients.
“When there’s an unwritten rule and it comes to question, it’s very easy to say the rule never existed,” Schroeder said.
As early as 1996, suspicions had been raised about the relationship between the Markses and Makler.
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