Danielle Steel's Former Assistant Admits She Embezzled From Employer for Years

Posted on September 30, 2009

Bestselling author Danielle Steel was shocked to discover that her assistant of fifteen years had been systematically embezzling from her. Kristy Watts, who also went by the name Kristy Siegrist, plead guilty today in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to one count of wire fraud and four counts of tax evasion. She will face sentencing on February 4th.

From 1993 to December 2008, when she was fired, Watts kept the books, handled payroll and accounting, and coordinated household and travel expenses for Steel, who lives in San Francisco. She admitted that she stole at least $400,000 from Steel in a variety of ways, including depositing numerous checks that had been payable to "cash" to her own bank account.

Watts used Steel's credit-card reward points to purchase gift cards and airline tickets for herself and her family, authorities said. She also paid herself more than the actual salary she was due. To hide what she had done, Watts made false entries in the accounting system of Steel's business operation, TPA Co., prosecutors said. Watts also tried to evade much of the federal income tax she owed for 2004 through 2007, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

What a terrible thing to have happened. Danielle Steel is now suing her former aid to get $2.7 million back, which was allegedly spent on remodeling and refurbishing a home in San Rafael. Danielle has said that she sometimes works up to twenty hours a day working on her next book and trusted her book keeper/assistant to keep track of her finance. The author is reported to make close to $30 million a year: there are half a billion of her books in circulation worldwide.

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