The manager of an Aspen psychic business is suing his only competitors after they sought a restraining order against him last spring, the latest spiritual salvos in a bitter dispute that is nearly two decades old.
Tony Marks of Mystical Wonders, which is owned by his wife, filed the lawsuit against Laura Miller, Archie Eli and Eric Eli, who own and manage Aspen Psychic, in Pitkin County District Court on Monday.
The businesses operate within a half-block of each other on the Hyman Avenue mall, a proximity that has led the parties from the metaphysical to the world of police reports and other aspects of natural law, according to legal filings.
Mystical Wonders opened in Aspen in 1998, Aspen Psychic started five years later, and it didn’t take long for the bad blood to boil. Tony Marks’ father, the late Larry Marks, and the Aspen Psychic operators had “a history of contentious relations regarding their competing businesses,” wrote the plaintiff’s attorney, Chris Bryan of Aspen.
Miller in March obtained a temporary restraining order against Tony Marks, alleging he was threatening and harassing her, Archie Eli and their son, Eric. This included Marks allegedly confronting Archie Eli in a City Market aisle and calling him a “bad-luck person,” according to a court filing by Miller.
Tony Marks also allegedly sent a private investigator to the Georgia home of a relative of Miller’s in May 2017. The man allegedly told them that “they cannot open a business in Aspen, that this is [Marks’] town territory,” Miller wrote.
Bryan also represented Marks in the restraining order case — which underlies Monday’s lawsuit — and moved to have it dismissed. The attorney cited statements of Miller’s that he said were not supported by police reports or other evidence.
In one purported incident, “Ms. Miller and her son were in her office when she saw Mr. Marks and another man outside on a public street — perhaps the most public in all of Aspen, the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall,” Bryan’s dismissal motion says. “She theorizes that Mr. Marks was showing her office to his associate as if to show him where to find her. She then theorizes that Mr. Marks was stalking and harassing her based on a claim that she saw this associate on the street outside of her office taking photographs.
“This conclusion is unreasonable, as the man denied knowing Mr. Marks when her son confronted him, and [he] explained that he was taking photographs of the landscape.”
At least once, Miller and her family went to police. Aspen officer Ryan Turner wrote that he recommended to them that they request a protection order. He also wrote that when he contacted Marks, he “adamantly denied” that he had been harassing his competitors.
Turner wrapped up his report by writing there was not enough evidence to charge Marks with anything.
When a temporary protection order is issued, it is followed fairly quickly by a hearing in which a judge weighs evidence and decides whether to make it permanent. In this case, Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely of Pitkin County Court recused herself in April, and the matter was reassigned to a Glenwood judge.
Judge Paul Metzger did not hear the case until June — in a hearing that lasted for 13 hours over two days, Bryan wrote in the lawsuit filed Monday. In the interim, Marks was bound by the temporary protection orders, which “severely restrained” his movements in Aspen, the filing says.
After the hearing, according to a minutes order, Judge Metzger vacated the temporary protection orders, finding that there was no “evidence that [Marks] will continue to do said acts.”
Bryan wrote in the lawsuit that the evidence used to obtain the temporary orders was “fabricated or nonexistent.” Attempts to reach the attorney who represented Miller and the Elis in the earlier case were not successful.
The effort to fight the restraining orders, including the delay incurred when a new judge took over, cost Marks nearly $51,000 in legal costs and attorney fees, the lawsuit says. It contains a single claim for malicious prosecution.