Steel’s former aide jailed

The bestselling novelist, whose books have sold 550 million copies worldwide, was left out of pocket after her former aide Kristy Watts embezzled $768,000 (£512,000) from her.

In September (09), Watts, who worked for Steel from 1993 to 2008, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and tax evasion after cashing cheques in Steel’s name and using the writer’s credit cards.

On Tuesday (20Apr10) she was handed a sentence of two years and nine months in jail by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker.

Watts has already paid $969,752 (£646,501) back to Steel, who filed a civil lawsuit against her last year (09), and she was ordered to reimburse the government more than $60,000 (£40,000) in taxes. Watts must also carry out 400 hours of community service as part of her sentence, reports the San Fransisco Chronicle.