A former Bay Area woman accused of pretending to be a healer and gypping a Cupertino woman out of more than $450,000 pleaded not guilty in Santa Clara County Superior Court Thursday on four felony charges, a district attorney’s spokeswoman said. Peaches Marks, 43, was charged with one count of extortion of property, two counts of grand theft of personal property of a value over $400, and one count of using personal identifying information without authorization. The charges stem from allegations that Marks posed as a spiritual mentor and college professor and took more than $450,000 from a Cupertino woman between June 2003 and June 2005, Santa Clara County sheriff’s Sgt. Rick Sung said. In 2003, the victim had responded to an advertisement Marks had placed in a Chinese newspaper offering spiritual services to lonely and depressed people, according to the sheriff’s office. The victim gave Marks about $450,000 before becoming financially drained in 2005 and asking Marks to return her money. Marks avoided contact with the victim for three years and finally disappeared in late 2008. After the victim contacted the sheriff’s office in 2008, detectives discovered Marks had connections to New Jersey, New York, Florida, Las Vegas and Arizona. Working with law enforcement officials out of state, the detectives were able to identify Marks’s mode of operation, Sung said. In 2009, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office issued a $500,000 warrant for Marks’arrest. Marks was stopped for a traffic violation and arrested on March 27 in Anaheim and then extradited to Santa Clara County. A preliminary hearing date will be set for Marks on May 26.
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