NAME GAME: Pseudo-social scientists are out to refute my Theory of Lee, but recent events in Lompoc have proved how wrong they are. The Theory of Lee holds that anyone with the first, last, or middle name Lee — or any of its many variants — are statistically predisposed to commit sociopathic acts with greater frequency and severity than their numbers suggest. This May, a new study came out that concluded the name most associated with criminal behavior was “Jeremy.” Lee doesn’t even make the top 20. Obviously anyone named Jeremy has issues that give rise to inappropriate aggression. But not anything like people named Lee.
The most recent case in point is still unfolding in Lompoc, where police have issued an all-points bulletin for a stolen Buddha statue — six feet tall and four feet wide — which until 3 a.m. on August 23 had been the property of noted husband-and-wife psychic scam artists, who, it turns out, were both named Lee even before they tied the knot.
The apparent mastermind of this duo is Gina Lucyfenia Lee, age 30, who stumbled onto her “gift” at age 11 and has been practicing it on other people’s bank accounts since age 16. Her accomplice and husband is Anthony Lee Davis, whose role — other than driving about in a white Mercedes with the dealer plates still on — has not been apparent. Davis’s mother, it’s been said, might have been a psychic. Whatever the division of labor, it appears to have paid off. Since moving to Lompoc in 2012, the two Lees pleaded guilty to ripping off two customers for $244,800. Before that, they nailed a couple in L.A. for $201,000. In the parlance of California criminal code, this constitutes “excessive fraud,” suggesting by implication some kind of fraud might be considered more reasonable.
To call what they did a scam is a stretch. Though brazen in the extreme, no cleverness was involved. Gina Lee marketed herself as a psychic and then “discovered” black magic spells that cast a dark pall on a given client. She would “cleanse” these spells for a fee of $700, but to do so, she needed to have in her possession all of her client’s financial assets. Cash. Gift cards. The more money, the longer the cleansing took. Often, many months were required. Even the most gullible would demand their funds returned. When this sad day occurred, Gina Lee would say, “What money?” If they persisted, she’d say, “Are you crazy?” If they persisted still, her husband — Anthony Lee Davis a k a “Rocky” — would enter the room and tell the victim to keep it down. Or that the police were on their way.
The Two Lees took one Lompoc woman for $237,000 this way. She owned two houses, had a job, and, as she stated in her sentencing statement, was known by her smile. Now she hardly smiles at all, can’t sleep, has nightmares, and is afraid to work. When she had doubts and asked for her money back, Gina Lee first told her that Anthony had brain cancer and was going to die in three months. Gina frequently texted the victim “Love you.” Now when she hears the word “love,” she said she feels “sick and scared.” When the victim insisted on getting her money back, Gina said she was nuts. Anthony accused her of wanting Gina to cast an impossible spell — to make a coworker fall in love with her. Then he called the cops.
Another Lompoc resident got took for $7,800.
The Two Lees fled to the Siberia of Lompoc only after they got chased out of Northridge for getting caught running a similar scam. There, they took a married couple for $201,000 the same way. Mike Basra said his wife contacted the Lees after their home was occupied by paranormal forces. He heard loud growling, like a dog was in the room. There were loud thumps, like a car crashing into the outside of their house. “Evil stuff,” Basra said. Gina knew things no one but family or friends could have known, he said. She became the Basras’ new best friend. She insisted they become hers. To cleanse the evil spirits, Gina needed Basra to drain his retirement account and his bank account and convert everything into cash. Nothing traceable. When the Basras eventually insisted on getting their money back, it was, “What money?” The Basras went to the L.A. County Sheriff, who took no action. Ultimately, the Basras sued. When the two Lees didn’t show, the Basras won a default judgment. But no actual cash.
Lompoc cops pursued the case. They brought charges. They insisted bail to be set at $1 million. The Lees were looking at four years and eight months in state prison. Amazingly, they came up with $244,000 in restitution, $137,000 in cash, and the rest in three cashier’s checks. Gina Lee reportedly said she had no idea where the money was coming from. She knew, however, exactly when it would arrive. Being a psychic, she was right. Neither police nor prosecutor Steve Foley know where the money came from either, but they have lots of guesses. With bail, the cleanliness of the cash matters; with restitution, it turns out, it doesn’t. Representing the two Lees were two expensive criminal defense hotshots from L.A. One previously defended a man accused of throttling a woman on a plane for reclining her seat into his space. Another achieved fame for waging what’s become known as the “burrito defense.” This entails gesticulating with a burrito while addressing the jury.
Because restitution was made, the defendants got five years probation and no time. For the next five years, however, both are prohibited from selling psychic services. Even so, they’ll still be named Lee. Not Jeremy. But Lee. Don’t forget it.