RALEIGH — Susan Perry Rouse and her husband, Charles S. Rouse, transferred beach property in their name to her former employer, Nicholls & Crampton, last month after police began investigating allegations that she embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars while working as the law firm’s office manager.
Pender County property records show the Rouse couple transferred a 896-square-foot bungalow at 1403 South Shore Drive in the Fairy Tale Beach subdivision near Surf City to Nicholls & Crampton on Oct. 24. The home was built in 1972 and had been in the Perry and Rouse families since 1989, state records show.
Rouse, 64, of 6520 Wynbrook Way turned herself in Friday to answer charges of felony embezzlement in excess of $100,000. She remained in the Wake County jail until someone posted a cash bond on her behalf at 12:27 p.m. Tuesday, a jail spokesman reported.
A diminutive figure dressed in a black sweater and pants, Rouse was accompanied by Raleigh attorney Duncan McMillan at 2 p.m. Tuesday for the brief court appearance. McMillan said afterward that Raleigh attorney Wayne Eads will represent Rouse during her trial.
District Court Judge Keith Gregory told Rouse that she could spend nearly 20 years behind bars if convicted of the charges.
Investigators think she began taking money from the law firm July 16, 2003, and continued until Oct. 5, court records show.
Police have not yet said how much money they think Rouse embezzled, but court records show she has repaid $350,000 to the Glenwood Avenue firm. The home and property at South Shore Drive was appraised at $200,000, according to Pender County tax records.
Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said investigators are using forensic accounting to determine how money was actually taken from the law firm.
“Financial cases typically take a period of time to investigate, largely because of the accounting work that has to be done to firmly establish what the loss was,” Sughrue said.
Officials with Nicholls & Crampton could not be reached Tuesday for comment. On Monday night, partner Timothy Nicholls said, “We were shocked and disappointed about the events leading up to her arrest.”
For years, Rouse was a volunteer and board member for Hospice of Wake County. In 2009, Hospice paid tribute to Rouse’s work as a longtime fundraiser and board member by naming part of its home at 205 Hospice Circle the Susan P. Rouse Administrative and Community Services Center.
News researcher Brooke Cain contributed to this report.