Susan McDougal bought clothes, paid credit card bills and rented a townhouse with money she stole from conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife, a prosecutor said during opening statements of the White-water figure's embezzlement trial.
"Susan McDougal was running around with a credit card in her name and spending money as if it was the good old days in Arkansas," Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Semow said Tuesday.McDougal, 43, worked as a bookkeeper and personal assistant to the Mehtas from 1989 to 1992. She is charged with embezzling $150,000 and tax fraud. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of seven years and four months in prison.
The trial was to resume Wednesday.
Defense lawyer Mark J. Geragos said Nancy Mehta knew about the purchases and was out to get his client.
"This is a crime of passion," he said. "The passion here is Nancy Mehta's passion and her passion for Susan and what she's done and the complete fabrication that she has perpetuated on my client for the past five years."
McDougal had lived a luxurious lifestyle in Arkansas but was unable to maintain her expensive tastes after moving to California in 1987, Semow said. He said the Mehtas were a "golden opportunity" for McDougal.
Among the credit card purchases in question were $695 at I. Magnin for clothes supposedly for the Mehtas. There were also $304 worth of women's clothes from Bullock's recorded as linens for the Mehtas' rental properties, Semow said, and a townhouse they rented in Dallas for two months for $5,400.
Geragos argued Nancy Mehta's original complaint to police involved only a $6,000 check and use of a credit card without authorization.
McDougal repaid the $6,000 plus interest, and Nancy Mehta later reviewed the credit card statements and determined most of the charges benefited her family, not McDougal, Geragos said.