A retired nun admitted to embezzling $ 835,000 over 10 years from a Catholic school in California to finance his gambling habit, according to federal prosecutors.
Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, former principal of St James Catholic School in Torrance, Calif., Used tuition and donations to subsidize casino gambling expenses and credit card payments, said. authority.
Kreuper, who made his vows of poverty at age 18 and spent 59 years in the religious order, said in his plea deal that he began diverting money from the tuition and donation account to a savings account that she financed the living expenses of the sisters who worked at the school and then used part of the money herself.
According to prosecutors, Kreuper admitted that he falsified monthly and annual reports to the school administration to cover up his fraudulent conduct and “led the St James School and administration to believe that the school’s finances were properly accounted for and its financial resources adequately safeguarded. , which, in turn, allowed defendant Kreuper to maintain her access to and control of the school’s finances and accounts and, therefore, to continue to manage the fraudulent scheme. “
In a statement to the Washington Post, Kreuper’s lawyers said she is “very sorry” and “sorry for any damage she has caused.”
“As soon as she was confronted, she accepted full responsibility for what she had done and cooperated fully with law enforcement and the archdiocese,” the statement said, adding that “she suffered from a mental illness that tarnished the his judgment “. .
The scheme was discovered during an audit after Kreuper retired in 2018. Prosecutors said he had also instructed school employees to “alter and destroy financial records”.
Kreuper is due to appear in court on July 1 and faces up to 40 years in federal prison.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles said in a statement that “the faith community in St James was shocked and saddened by these actions” and expressed gratitude “to local and federal law enforcement for their work in investigating this. question”.