Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 11:27 UK

A former PA to Danielle Steel jailed for embezzlement

Danielle Steel
Danielle Steel is one of the world's most successful romance novelists

A former assistant of romance novelist Danielle Steel has been sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to embezzling $768,000 (£498,124).

Kristy Watts was given two years and nine months for depositing cheques made out to cash in her own bank account.

She also admitted using the author's credit card reward points and paying herself more than her annual salary.

Watts worked for Steel for 15 years, earning $200,000 (£129,646) a year for handling her payroll and accounting.

The 48-year-old was fired in December 2008 and pleaded guilty the following September to fraud and tax evasion.

Watts has already paid nearly $1m (£648,000) to Steel after the 62-year-old novelist took legal action against her in a civil court.

The former aide must pay more than $60,000 (£39,000) in taxes and do 400 hours of community service as part of her sentence.

In a statement, Watts said she had been motivated by "envy and jealousy" of Steel, whose best-selling novels include Jewels, Matters of the Heart and One Day at a Time.

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