An Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge cleared an Annapolis psychic of civil charges of fraud and negligence yesterday and ruled it wasn't the psychic's fault that a client lost $236,000 after investing with a financial counselor she recommended.
Judge Eugene M. Lerner ruled that Nancy Cantrell of Severna Park was responsible for losing her inheritance and that the release she signed before consulting Kathy Oddenino cleared the psychic of any liability.
Mrs. Cantrell filed suit in Anne Arundel Circuit Court last year, alleging she lost her money after investing with a financial counselor Mrs. Oddenino recommended during a 1992, "channeling session" in the psychic's home on Lee Drive.
Iris K. Rounsaville, the financial counselor, pleaded guilty Sept. 7, 1993, in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to wire fraud and mail fraud charges. Federal authorities say Rounsaville bilked 90 victims out of $4.7 million. She is serving a five-year prison sentence.
Mrs. Cantrell's suit, which also named Rounsaville as a defendant, sought $236,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.
Judge Lerner agreed to enter a $236,000 judgment against Rounsaville, but Mrs. Cantrell said it is unlikely she will get any money.
"Now, I have to figure out how to pay my lawyer," she said.
During the two-day trial Mrs. Oddenino's lawyer, Charles Carlson, emphasized that Mrs. Cantrell, a 49-year-old college graduate, never consulted any financial experts. Mrs. Cantrell barely knew Rounsaville and did not check her credentials before investing, he said.
Under cross-examination, Mrs. Cantrell admitted that the only check she made before wiring Rounsaville an initial $220,000 payment was to call the U.S. District Court in Baltimore to see if the woman had any federal convictions.
Mrs. Oddenino, a 65-year-old registered nurse, said Mrs. Cantrell never understood a point she stresses with the approximately 100 clients she counsels each year at $100 per visit -- the importance of personal responsibility.
"She was somebody who didn't understand and wasn't able to take personal responsibility," she said.
As a channeler, Mrs. Oddenino said she reads the energy emanating from a person's soul and tries to put the person in touch with it. The people can then adjust their lives in a positive direction, she said.
"All the time we are living in our physical lives, we are actually using our soul's energy," said Mrs. Oddenino, who has written six books on the subject.
She said she could not detect Rounsaville's fraudulent ways because of the woman's enigmatic energy levels.
"She had an ability to switch from one energy to another," she said.
Mrs. Cantrell said she feels Mrs. Oddenino took advantage of her, steering her to Rounsaville because they were involved in business dealings.
"I was very gullible," she said. "I don't know why I believed her. I guess it was because I thought she was a good businesswoman."