Gypsy wars in Newport Beach
Did the AP scoop the Register on this one?
Gypsy Clans Feud Over Fortunetelling Biz
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) - A dispute between two Gypsy clans over control of the fortunetelling trade in this Southern California city has spilled into court, offering a rare glimpse of an insular culture that has long settled scores according to its own Old World rules of honor.
The turf war in well-to-do Orange County has unfolded like a gangster movie, with allegations of death threats, a graveside scuffle, and nicknames like "White Bob" and "Black Bob" - details revealed in a police report and requests for restraining orders.
"The older Gypsies are pulling out their hair, not wanting the courts in our business because they'll find out too much about us," said Tom Merino, who is distantly related to one of the clans but has spurned his heritage. "Ignorance is the Gypsies' weapon against the outside world."
The Stevens and Merino clans, like other Gypsy families, have run numerous fortunetelling businesses in Southern California for decades.
The trouble started two years ago when Edward Merino and his wife, Sonia, opened fortunetelling parlors in two trendy resort sections of Newport Beach, not far from where the Stevenses did business.
Members of the Stevens clan promptly broke in, stole a credit card machine and threatened to kill the Merinos if they didn't shut the places down, the Merinos claim in court papers. Since then, the bad blood has only gotten worse. . ."
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