PATRICIA Cornwell has been awarded $50.9m (€38.3m) in damages against a financial-management firm that she accused of squandering tens of millions of dollars of her money.
The plot could be straight from one of her bestselling crime-fiction novels – wealthy American businesswoman brought to her knees by a cabal of double-crossing money men, her steely reserve and brilliant forensic mind her only salvation in clearing her name.
The crime novelist, who has sold more than 100 million copies of her books featuring feisty forensic pathologist Dr Kay Scarpetta, brought the case against Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP and its former principal, Evan H Snapper.
She had paid the company about $40,000 (€30,000) per month for four years to handle her finances. But the author (56) claimed the company had mismanaged about $89m (€67m) of her money.
She alleged that Mr Snapper used her money to write a $5,000 (€3,600) cheque for his daughter as a Bat Mitzvah gift, purportedly a gift from Ms Cornwell.
She also alleged that the company made unauthorised and illegal donations on her behalf to Hillary Clinton's bid to be the Democrats' presidential candidate.
Mr Snapper has admitted doing this but told jurors it was on behalf of Ms Cornwell and her friends.
He is currently on probation for this offence.
The company was also accused of shifting Ms Cornwell's investment strategy from "conservative" to "aggressive" without her full understanding.
Anchin claimed Ms Cornwell was responsible for her dwindling finances.
The firm said she purchased helicopters and a mansion in Massachusetts for $11m (€8.2m). She was also said to have spent $5m (€3.8m) a year on private jets.
Ms Cornwell told the court that she had "never denied" living a lavish lifestyle.
Anchin, Block & Anchin released a statement that suggested it may appeal. (© Daily Telegraph, London)