The FBI has released to The Black Vault, an online repository of more
than 1 million pages of declassified government documents, the official file
for self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Celeste Browne. The 52 pages released by the
agency, details extensive bank fraud, embezzlement, and what the FBI calls her "extravagant
In 1988, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiated an investigation into Browne for securing at least eight federally insured loans totaling $1,253,933. It was determined that Browne, along with a blacked out accomplice, falsified tax return documents and financial statements to secure the loans.
The FBI employed the method of handwriting analysis by comparing known writing samples of Browne to the forged documents, in order to build a case against Browne, and to circumvent any defense argument of "someone else signed my name!"
The file also noted that investigations were being conducted by the IRS into Browne, along with her organization known as the Nirvana Foundation.
The FBI was confident that Browne forged the records to secure the loans, and the results of the investigation were sent over to the U.S. Attorney's Office. But according to the documents released to The Black Vault, a November 30, 1988, memorandum indicated, "This matter has not received prompt attention at the U.S. Attorney's Office due to the scarce of the resources and was assigned to California Deputy Attorney General RONALD SMETANA, cross designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. MR. SMETANA has declined prosecution in instant matter and that declination has been concurred with by the Chief of the U.S. Attorney's Office at San Jose."
Shortly after the Department of Justice declined prosecution of Browne, the FBI ceased further investigation into the matter.