City enforces obscure anti-fortune telling law
The Associated Press
In a series of apparently unforeseen visits, city inspectors slapped desist orders on the shops of psychics, astrologers, phrenologists and tarot-card readers who charge money for their services.
Dominic E. Verdi, deputy commissioner of the city Department of Licenses and Inspections, said Thursday the agency was just recently alerted to a state law, on the books for more than 30 years, that makes fortunetelling "for gain or lucre" a third-degree misdemeanor.
"We were not aware it was a crime, but the Police Department came to us a few days ago and showed us where the crime code prohibits psychic readings," Verdi said. "We looked into it, and it's clearly illegal. I was surprised."
He said inspectors had closed 16 shops since Tuesday and he expected them to close more.
Inspectors were not fining or arresting the fortune tellers, Verdi said, "but they will if these people try to return to work."