Nun Stole Over $800,000 to Support Gambling Habit, Prosecutors Say

As a Catholic nun, Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper had taken a vow of poverty.

But this week, prosecutors mentioned Sister Mary Margaret, 79, had agreed to plead responsible to stealing greater than $835,000 from a Catholic elementary faculty to help a playing behavior and to pay for different private bills.

Sister Mary Margaret was charged on Tuesday with wire fraud and cash laundering whereas she was the principal of St. James Catholic School in Torrance, Calif., the workplace of the U.S. legal professional for the Central District of California mentioned in a statement. She is scheduled to seem within the Federal District Court in Los Angeles on July 1.

Sister Mary Margaret admitted to a “fraudulent scheme” wherein she “lulled St. James School and the administration into believing that the school’s finances were being properly accounted for and its financial assets properly safeguarded,” prosecutors mentioned.

She confessed to inflicting losses to St. James Catholic School totaling $835,339 over the course of the scheme, the assertion mentioned. She retired as the varsity’s principal in 2018, after 28 years within the function, it mentioned.

According to paperwork accompanying the plea settlement, Sister Mary Margaret diverted faculty funds into the varsity’s convent account and its federal credit score union financial savings account, after which used the cash for “expenses that the order would not have approved, much less paid for,” together with giant playing bills at casinos in Nevada and bank card costs.

Sister Mary Margaret’s legal professionals, Mark A. Byrne and Daniel V. Nixon, mentioned she was “very remorseful.”

“As soon as she was confronted she accepted full responsibility for what she had done and she has cooperated completely with law enforcement and the Archdiocese,” they mentioned in an announcement. They added that “she has been suffering from a mental illness that clouded her judgment and caused her to do something that she otherwise would not have done.”

They mentioned Sister Mary Margaret turned a nun when she was 18, and for the subsequent 59 years she devoted her life to “helping others and educating children in Archdiocesan schools.”

Her non secular order, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, which in accordance to court docket paperwork was paying for her dwelling bills, mentioned in an announcement on Wednesday that it will not remark till the authorized course of was accomplished.

She additionally admitted to falsifying month-to-month and annual monetary reviews, and to telling faculty staff to alter and destroy monetary information throughout an audit, the prosecutors’ assertion and court docket paperwork mentioned.

Concern over the varsity’s funds began to improve because the Archdiocese of Los Angeles started to put together for the change of management in 2018, the archdiocese mentioned in an announcement. A monetary evaluation confirmed “a substantial amount of school funds had been misappropriated for personal use by Sister Mary Margaret,” it mentioned.

In December 2018, after a gathering with the archdiocese, the Torrance Police Department said that it was dedicating further staffing to assist look at proof and discover individuals who had submitted tuition checks, account cost data or money donations.

In an announcement on Tuesday about Sister Mary Margaret’s responsible plea, the archdiocese mentioned the revelations had “shocked and saddened” the group.

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