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Author Steel's Former Assistant Sentenced For Embezzlement

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SAN FRANCISCO — Danielle Steel's former assistant has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison for embezzling more than $760,000 from the romance novelist.

Kristy Watts worked for 15 years and earned an annual salary of $200,000 for part-time work that included handling Steel's payroll and accounting.

The 48-year-old pleaded guilty last year to depositing numerous checks made out to "cash" in her own bank account, using the author's credit card rewards points and paying herself more than her salary.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker on Tuesday sentenced Watts to two years and nine months in prison.

She has paid the author $969,752 to settle a lawsuit by selling her house and furnishings. Watts is married to a San Francisco Police Department officer and has a 6-year-old daughter.

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