Closing the Book on Danielle Steel's Thieving Bookkeeper

Stealing from Steel comes with a cost

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Author Danielle Steel arrives at "An Enduring Vision", a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2005 in New York. Since starting the foundation in 1992, he has raised over $60 million.(AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

    The final chapter has been written in the story of the bookeeper who stole from her novelist boss.

    Kristy Watts was sentenced Tuesday to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay $60,677 in restitution after being convicted of wire fraud and tax evasion. Watts pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco to all five counts charged against her, one for wire  fraud and four for tax evasion.

    For about 15 years, Watts was trusted with overseeing Steel's personal and professional management. She managed her bank accounts and credit card statements, handling petty cash and paying bills for the celebrity author. During that time, she devised a scheme to steal nearly $800,000 from Steel, money that was used to finance a lavish lifestyle of luxury vehicles and jetsetting, the Department of Justice said.

    Watts deposited checks made payable to "cash" into her personal account, gave herself additional salary and bonus payments, and raided Steel's credit card rewards points to fund trips for herself and her family to several domestic and international locations.

    Watts formerly lived in San Rafael and now resides in Tiburon. Steel lives in San Francisco.

    Watts has already turned over more than $969,000 to Steel through the sale of her San Rafael home, its furnishings and her and her husband's vehicles. She didn't have a change of heart, she did it after Steel sued her.

    She will begin serving her prison sentence on June 4. She will also serve three years of supervised release and perform 400 hours of community service.

    Bay City News contributed to this report.