In the club world, the house music disc jockey Sharam is an international superstar. He was part of the successful duo Deep Dish, which won a Grammy for remixing Dido’s “Thank You” in 2002. He launched the record label Yoshitoshi, which is headquartered in Great Falls, where he also lives. And he is now a popular solo artist who released a new album of remixes and original material this summer, and is headlining shows across Europe and South America this fall.
But in 2010, he hired Kristin Gardner Kelly as his bookkeeper. Whether he knew that Kelly had just finished serving a jail sentence for embezzling nearly $150,000 from her previous employer in Springfield, Sharam won’t say. But over the next two years, police believe that Kelly stole more than $100,000 from the world famous DJ. She is now facing three felony charges of embezzlement and forgery. She denies the charges.
Kelly is an entertaining figure herself. She is also facing a felony bigamy charge for being married to two people at the same time — something that court records indicate has happened twice. (She says that is the men’s fault.) And she says while she worked for Sharam, he was sending money to terrorists in Iran, and she reported him to the FBI. The authorities, and Sharam’s lawyer, say that’s not true.
For more on how this whole mess has unfolded, bringing together the disparate worlds of house music, terrorism, bigamy and the Fairfax County police, read more after the jump. Here is a video for the song “Day” from his new double album, “Night and Day.”
Kristin Marie Gardner, 30, first came to the attention of police in 2009, after she had left her job as the controller for Waterford Receptions, a Springfield company which operates conference centers in Fair Oaks and Springfield. She started working for Waterford in 2007, and “she started stealing a week after she started working for us,” said Keith Clark, president of Waterford.
“She ended up stealing $150,000 from us,” Clark added, “which we didn’t discover until after I fired her for lying” in 2009. Clark said Gardner forged his signature and other company officers’ signatures on various checks and documents, and used the money to travel, buy a car and numerous personal items. “Thank God we were covered by insurance,” Clark said.
When I spoke to Gardner at the Fairfax courthouse in August, she insisted on being called Kristin Kelly, her second of three married names. I asked what happened at Waterford and she said, “I embezzled from Waterford, I’ve admitted that and I’ve done my time. But I didn’t steal from Sharam. That is not true.” She said she was required to inform employers that she was a convicted felon, and that she had done so with Sharam, whose full name is Sharam Tayebi.
Sharam has been working in the big-time club world since the 1990s, when Deep Dish first hit big, and when the duo did remixes for Madonna and the Rolling Stones. More recently, Sharam has worked on original material with Shakira and Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
Sharam declined to speak with me. He is unhappy about being dragged into this mess, as well as having $100,000 being stolen from him. “It has harmed his relations with other folks” who were owed money, his lawyer Timothy Davis said. “He had to mend fences with people who weren’t paid or paid late.”
While working at Waterford, Fairfax court records show that Kelly married Royce Kelly in April 2008. Then in August 2008, Loudoun court records show she filed for divorce from David W. Jefferies. This would seem to be a flawed chronology, in that divorces typically precede marriages. But I am not a lawyer. That divorce was finalized in March 2009.
In June 2009, Kristin M. Gardner Jefferies Kelly was arrested for embezzlement from Waterford. She pleaded guilty, and in February 2010 was given a three year sentence, with all but six months suspended. She was allowed to be on work release while serving her six months, and also ordered to make restitution of $147,709, court records show.
In the fall of 2010, Kelly began working as the bookkeeper for Yoshitoshi, Sharam’s record label. But it wasn’t until the spring of this year that other staff realized that “some things weren’t getting paid,” Davis said. “So somebody started looking at things.”
And it was determined that Kelly had been writing checks to herself, using the Yoshitoshi debit card and otherwise misusing Sharam’s money, Davis said. She had paid one of her (many) divorce lawyers with a check from Yoshitoshi, court records show. In May, she was arrested on one count of embezzlement and two counts of forgery. She is free on bond, but the judge in the Waterford case tossed her back in jail for 10 days last month for failing to report to her probation officer, and she still has more than two years of prison time hanging over her head in that case.
Meanwhile, in September 2011, court records show that Kelly married Cem Kurt, and he has been accompanying her to court. However, she did not divorce her second husband, Royce Kelly, until November 2011, Fauquier court records show. This is the source of her felony bigamy charge in Fairfax, though that could get confusing because, technically, her second marriage was likely legally void, by the alleged bigamy on the first marriage. Got it?
Kelly also has two children, Royce Kelly told me. He now has primary custody of her seven-year-old daughter. A teenaged son is now with his father, an earlier boyfriend who never married Kelly, Royce Kelly said.
“She’s just greedy,” Royce Kelly said. “She wants money. She doesn’t want to work for it.” He said she told him while they were married that she was working as a stripper at night. Her hijinks forced him into bankruptcy, Royce Kelly said.
In the Yoshitoshi case, she has shown up to court in August and again on Wednesday without her lawyer, who withdrew from the case before Wednesday’s hearing. After the hearing, she blamed me for causing that to happen, though I hadn’t written about the case. She declined to explain why her lawyer dropped out.
She’s due back in court in December.