The Washington Post

Kristin Gardner Kelly gets 5 years for embezzling $90K from star DJ Sharam Tayebi

Kristin Marie Gardner Jeffries Kelly Kurt, 31, was sentenced to five years in prison Friday for embezzling $90,000 from Grammy-winning DJ Sharam, after previously being convicted of stealing nearly $150,000 from a Springfield company. (Fairfax County Sheriff's Office) Kristin Marie Gardner Jeffries Kelly Kurt, 31, was sentenced to five years in prison Friday for embezzling $90,000 from Grammy-winning DJ Sharam, after previously being convicted of stealing nearly $150,000 from a Springfield company. (Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office)

Kristin Marie Gardner Jeffries Kelly Kurt has been busy in her 31 years, as her name would indicate. She’s been married three times, had two children, done jail time for stealing nearly $150,000 from a Springfield company, apparently committed bigamy twice, reportedly worked as a stripper, and served as the bookkeeper for DJ Sharam, a world-famous, Grammy-winning disc jockey and producer who lives and works in Great Falls.

Add “stole $90,000 from DJ Sharam” to that resume. After initially denying that, to the police and to me last summer, she pleaded guilty in January to felony theft. And following a couple of hours of drama Friday in which she claimed she couldn’t be sentenced because of pending cancer treatments, but couldn’t produce any medical records, a Fairfax County judge slowed down Kelly’s life by sentencing her to five years in prison.

(We will call her Kristin Kelly here, for simplicity sake, and because that’s what she insisted I call her when we met last August. On Friday, her lawyer said she wanted to be called Kristin Kurt, her third husband’s surname, but the lawyer acknowledged she hadn’t gotten around to actually changing her name.)

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Bruce D. White had Kelly before him in 2009, after she pleaded guilty to stealing $147,709 from Waterford Receptions, which runs conference centers in Fair Oaks and Springfield. He sentenced her to three years, but suspended all but six months of that, while ordering her to repay Waterford. “It was my hope in sentencing you the first time,” White said, “that your conduct might change.”

Instead, prosecutors said, she took advantage of her famous boss — real name Sharam Tayebi — while his child had cancer, siphoning money out of his Yoshitoshi record company to pay for mall shopping sprees, tanning salon visits and hotel rooms. “He had quite a bit of personal stuff going on at the time,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Mark Oberndorf told the judge Friday. “I really think this was an opportunity that Ms. Kelly took to begin embezzling. His attention was elsewhere.”

Tayebi did not show up for the denouement of the case Friday. He had a show Saturday night in Montreal, and has upcoming concerts in Toronto, Mexico City, Florida, Portugal and Austria. His lawyer, Timothy Davis, said he did not want to comment.

The background on this case, DJ Sharam, Kelly’s previous conviction, her apparently specious claim that she was funneling money to Iranian terrorists for Tayebi, her multiple marriages and subsequent divorces, her professional dancing background and her two children is here. Her guilty plea in January was reported here.

Grammy-winning DJ Sharam Tayebi of Great Falls headlines a concert at Green Valley, Brazil, in February. (

Kelly has apparently paid about $9,000 in restitution to the Waterford, her first victim, but Oberndorf said he told Tayebi it was unlikely he would ever get any of his $90,000 back. “There’s not a penny left to pay back of these victims,” the prosecutor said. He said Kelly had stolen and spent close to a quarter-million dollars on “absolute junk,” as well as transferring $30,000 from Tayebi to her current husband, which was then promptly withdrawn.

Virginia sentencing guidelines suggested Kelly receive a prison term of between one year 10 months and four years, nine months. But Oberndorf recommended the judge go above the guidelines because Kelly had resumed stealing as soon as she finished her first jail term. Kelly insisted to the judge Friday that she had told Tayebi she was a convicted felon, but Oberndorf did not think that was true. “Ms. Kelly has done nothing but take, take, take from people,” Oberndorf said. He was also the prosecutor on her first embezzlement case.

In August, I spoke to Kelly after one hearing and she admitted stealing from the Waterford, but said, “I didn’t steal from Sharam. That is not true.” She said the prosecution was a payback for her attempting to expose Tayebi’s financial support of terrorism to the FBI.

On Friday, it was time to set the record straight. “I don’t have a good excuse,” she told the judge. “I don’t have a reason why. I’m not a bad person but I’ve made some pretty bad decisions. I have lost my home, my vehicle, I’ve lost my daughter…It’s because of my negligence that this all happened.”

Kelly said she was under the influence of oxycodone and another narcotic drug, both prescribed by doctors. “Because of this, you are not in your right mind,” Kelly explained. “I don’t believe what I did was right and I have zero excuse.”

Judge White was unmoved. “You’re still not accepting responsibility,” White said. “You began by telling me how much you suffered, and your actions were due to negligence. Negligence is accidental. This was not accidental. The people that have suffered the most have been your victims.”

White added, “You are a danger to the community. I fully believe when you get out of incarceration, you will try to find a job from which you will try to steal from your employer again. I do not think the [sentencing] guidelines are adequate.”

White imposed a five-year sentence in the Tayebi case, and imposed the remaining 2 1/2 years of the Waterford case, but allowed them to run concurrent, as agreed to by the prosecution. He ordered restitution of $90,000 to Tayebi, on top of the $138,209 still owed to the Waterford. Kelly was handcuffed and immediately taken into custody.

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.



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