CA Nun Embezzles $835,000 for Gambling, Faces 40 Years in Jail

Following an investigation by the FBI, IRS, and Torrance Police Department, charges were filed against a now-retired nun that used to be a principal of St. James Catholic School in California. Statement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office released on Tuesday reveals that Mary Margaret Kreuper will plead guilty for embezzling more than $835,000 in school funds which were used for personal expenditures including gambling trips.

Elderly Nun Allegedly Used School Funds for Personal Expenditures, Gambling

An elderly nun who used to run a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, California may be facing jail time after allegedly stealing more than $835,000 in school funds. Mary Margaret Kreuper, a Los Angelis resident allegedly used the money to fund personal expenditures, including gambling trips.

Charges against now-retired 79-year-old nun were filed Tuesday. According to a statement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Kreuper was charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of money laundering, and has agreed to plead guilty. Under the two charges, the maximum statutory penalty is 40 years in federal prison.

According to prosecutors, Kreuper’s actions resulted in losses of $835,339 to the St. James Catholic School. Following the agreement to plead guilty to the two charges, the nun will now have to appear in United States District Court on July 1.

Investigation Found That Funds Were Diverted for 10 Years

As a nun, Kreuper has taken a vow of poverty. However, this did not stop her from diverting funds from the school. After the FBI, IRS, and Torrance Police Department conducted an investigation, they found that Kreuper embezzled money from the school for 10 years until September 2018. As a school principal for 28 years, she was responsible for all charitable donations, as well as all money which the school received related to payments for tuition and fees.

In Kreuper’s plea agreement she admitted to diverting funds “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.” Furthermore, the nun admitted to falsifying both monthly and annual reports to the school administration, with the intent to cover up the fraudulent activity.

By falsifying those reports, Kreuper “lulled St. James School and the Administration into believing that the school’s finances were being properly accounted for“. This enabled her to keep her access to the school’s funds and continue the fraudulent activity. The prosecution also alleges that Kreuper asked school employees to alter and destroy financial records during a school audit.

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