Embezzlement charges lead to resignation of House member

Dec. 11, 2013 @ 10:40 PM

RALEIGH — A North Carolina legislator has resigned following her arrest on felony tax charges.

The N.C. Department of Revenue announced Wednesday that Rep. Deborah H. McManus, D-Chatham, faces three counts of embezzlement of state property. The first-term lawmaker from Siler City is alleged to have used her position working as a bookkeeper for a medical practice to embezzle more than $47,000 that had been withheld from employees to pay state income taxes between January 2011 and July 2013.

The agency said the 56-year-old Democrat had appeared before a magistrate at the Wake County jail and released under a $150,000 bond. Her first appearance in Wake County District Court is scheduled for Thursday. It was not immediately clear if she has an attorney.

Calls to McManus' home and legislative office were not answered.

Her husband, Dr. Keith McManus, runs the medical practice from which the legislator is accused of embezzling.

Her lawyer, Elliot Abrams, told WRAL-TV of Raleigh that Deb McManus was blindsided by the charges.

"She had been working with the Department of Revenue over the past few months to handle the situation and was surprised by these charges," Abrams said. "We will be reviewing the evidence in the case and will be discussing this matter with the Attorney General's Office."

In a letter to N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis dated Wednesday, McManus says it is with "deep sadness" that she must resign her legislative seat "to focus on a personal matter that has arisen."

"It has been one of the greatest honors and pleasures of my life to have served the people of the 54th District, and I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish," McManus wrote. "I will remain forever grateful for the opportunity to serve and for the support I have received throughout my service."

House Democratic Leader Larry Hall of Durham issued a brief statement, saying only that McManus had notified him of her resignation "over a personal financial matter."

"I accepted her decision and I thank her for her service," Hall said.