A Fairfax County woman, previously convicted of embezzling nearly $150,000 from a Springfield company, pleaded guilty Monday to stealing up to $90,000 from two Great Falls businesses owned by Grammy-winning house DJ Sharam Tayebi. The woman, Kristin Gardner Kelly, 31, likely faces some serious prison time because she still has more than two years left to serve from her first conviction.
But Fairfax prosecutors did cut her a break: They agreed to dismiss the pending felony bigamy charge against Kelly, for her apparent tendency to marry one guy before divorcing the previous guy. Which court records seem to show she’s done twice. Both her former boss and her second husband said she augmented her illegal income by working (legally) as a stripper, and she told me that she had funneled money (illegally) from Tayebi to terrorists, which turned out to be false. So she’s a colorful character, you might say.
Tayebi, 43, who lives and works in Great Falls when he isn’t touring, did not appear for Monday’s plea, though he had attended several other hearings. But prosecutors revealed that Tayebi had another reason for not immediately realizing that Kelly was looting his company accounts (besides recording and touring): He was dealing with a child who had cancer. The child’s status was not available Monday, but it helped explain how Tayebi might have been victimized by a convicted embezzler, as well as added another layer of sleaze to Kelly’s crime.
Kelly declined to speak with me Monday after her plea to one count of felony embezzlement.
The full background of the story is in this post from October. Basically, we start with DJ Sharam, a native of Tehran and originally half of the very famous DJ duo Deep Dish. Deep Dish did club remixes for people like Madonna and the Rolling Stones, and then won the Best Remix Grammy in 2002 for reworking Dido’s “Thank You.” They were nominated for two other remixing Grammys (didn’t know they gave Grammys for remixing, did you?) and have won various other DJ-type awards. They are huge. They had a Yoshitoshi music store in Georgetown for a while, and they founded Yoshitoshi Recordings, a record label for themselves and others, now headquartered in the metropolis of Great Falls.
Kelly is from Northern Virginia, went to high school in Prince William County, and is the mother of two children, but she doesn’t have custody of either, according to second husband (and alleged bigamy victim #1) Royce Kelly. In 2007, she began working at Waterford Receptions, which runs conference centers in Springfield and Fair Oaks. In 2009, she was caught stealing $147,709 from Waterford. She pleaded guilty in 2010, and Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Bruce White gave her three years, then suspended all but six months, leaving two-and-a-half years of “backup time” in the event of future violations.
Kelly’s current case is also before Judge White. He is not known for his go-easy-on-’em approach to sentencing, particularly with repeat offenders. She is looking at a sentencing range of zero to 20 years on the Sharam case, in addition to the time from the prior case, though prosecutors have agreed they can run concurrently.
After a court appearance last summer, Kelly told me she had informed Sharam of her background as a convicted felon, but investigators do not believe that. He hired her as his bookkeeper in the fall of 2010, not long after she’d finished her sentence for embezzling from Waterford.
While Sharam was busy with his professional and personal life, Kelly set about writing company checks to herself, obtaining cash from company accounts and using the company debit card for personal purchases, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Mark Oberndorf told the judge. In March 2012, businesses that were owed money by Sharam asked where their payments were, and he turned to Kelly.
Kelly sent Sharam text messages, Oberndorf said, which “stated she was sorry for what she’d done, and she would pay him back.” Sharam saved the texts. At one point, Kelly told Sharam “she only had 30 days to live,” which also turned out to be untrue.
A professional audit of Sharam’s accounts for Yoshitoshi and for Dulles Connection Inc., his music publishing company, could not determine the exact amount stolen, Oberndorf said, but the best estimate is between $68,000 and $90,000, slightly less than the $100,000 figure provided by Sharam’s lawyer in our previous post.
Still, anything more than $200 is a felony in Virginia, and Fairfax judges lately have taken a dimmer view of white-collar crime.
Meanwhile, Sharam released a new “Wildcast” podcast last month, from a performance in Denmark, on the heels of his new double album, “Night & Day.” He has gigs lined up in New York and Atlanta in coming weeks. We hope his child is getting better.
Kelly’s sentencing on both her Waterford case and the Sharam case is set for March 29.