Family friend arrested for embezzlement

A woman charged with embezzling more than $27,000 from a Selbyville real estate business was a family friend of the business’ owners, police and business officials said this week.

Selbyville resident Susan Burkholder, 37, allegedly cashed company checks without permission, forged checks and used company credit cards for her own benefit while working as a bookkeeper/office manager for Keith Properties Inc. in Selbyville, according to Delaware State Police.

Police said that she also allegedly opened up accounts without permission, made false entries into records to cover up the wrongdoings and added a business credit card to her personal Paypal account online, all while neglecting to pay company bills.

The businesses’ owners hired her in February, partly because she was a “great friend,” and the crimes allegedly took place from March to August, police said.

“She’s a crook,” said Bryan Keith, a co-owner of Keith Properties who has known Burkholder for 14 years, since both families lived in New Castle County.

“I’m still in shock. She knew she wasn’t paying any of my bills and she could still look me in the face,” he added, saying that their children are good friends, the families went out to dinner together regularly and Burkholder even watched his kids.

Burkholder was arrested on Nov. 3 and charged with five counts of forgery in the second degree, seven counts of theft by false pretense, five counts of unlawful use of a credit card, six counts of criminal impersonation and two counts of falsifying business records, according to the release. She was released on $25,000 unsecured bond awaiting a preliminary hearing that was scheduled for this week, said Cpl. Jeff Oldham, a state police spokesman.

Burkholder could not be reached for comment.

Keith and DSP Public Information Officer Cpl. Jeff Oldham said that Burkholder would submit withdrawals but cash checks for personal use that were supposed to be used for company bills. Keith said she illegally made one check out to herself for more than $6,100.

“Everything you can imagine she wasn’t paying that she was supposed to pay,” Keith said. “(She) used (company) credit cards and bought birthday presents.”

The business was alerted of some type of wrongdoing in August, when officials notified Keith on his cell phone that company equipment was going to be repossessed. Keith said that he began receiving numerous notifications that bills were not being paid. Burkholder had taken previous calls about unpaid bills at the office but had not told the owners, Keith said. Keith Properties officials fired Burkholder in August and reported the issue to the Delaware State Police, Keith and Oldham said.

“Everybody is devastated,” Keith said. “I trusted her with my kids. Her kids and my kids are closer than you can imagine. I trusted her and believed in her.”