California Nun Steals $835K from Catholic School to Fund Gambling Habit1 month ago
A Catholic nun from California who took a vow of poverty has agreed to plead guilty to charges of stealing more than $835,000 of school funds, money which she used to fund her gambling habit and for personal expenses.
Mary Margaret Kreuper, a 79-year-old school principal from Los Angeles, accepted a plea deal on one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering, charges which carry a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in federal prison.
Kreuper admitted to embezzling the massive sum from St. James Catholic School in Torrance over a 10-year period from 2008 to 2018, although the nun was principal of the school for 28 years in total.
According to a Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office press release for the Central District of California, Kreuper diverted funds between different school accounts.
Kreuper controlled money received by the school for tuition and fees and charitable donations, diverting it into two separate credit union accounts - one a savings account for the school, the other for paying living expenses of nuns employed by St. James.
According to the DoJ, that diverted money was instead used “to pay for expenses that the order would not have approved, much less paid for, including large gambling expenses incurred at casinos and certain credit card charges.”
The disgraced nun also admitted falsifying monthly and annual reports “to cover up her fraudulent conduct,” and “directed St. James School employees to alter and destroy financial records during a school audit.”
She reportedly “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.”
This, say prosecutors led by Assistant United States Attorney Poonam G. Kumar of the Major Frauds Section, allowed Kreuper “to maintain her access and control of the school’s finances and accounts and, thus, continue operating the fraudulent scheme.”
A joint investigation carried out by the Torrance Police Department, the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation revealed the total losses for St. James attributed to Kreuper’s dishonesty amounted to $835,339.
The now former school principal will appear in court for an arraignment on July 1st.
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