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California nun turned hundreds of thousands of people away from Catholic school where she was principal to support her game, prosecutors say

St. James Catholic School in Torrance, Monday December 3, 2018. Photo by Scott Varley / Digital First Media / Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images

  • A nun led an embezzlement plan at the Catholic elementary school where she worked for ten years.

  • Today, two years after retiring as a director, she has agreed to plead guilty to fraud and money laundering.

  • During her scheme, she caused losses equal to $ 835,339, according to the Justice Department.

  • Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.

A religious sister and principal of a Catholic school embezzled school funds to finance her own personal expenses, including gambling trips to casinos and credit card fees, according to prosecutors.

Mary Margaret Kreuper, a retired nun who served as principal of a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, Calif. For 28 years, on Tuesday agreed to plead guilty to fraud and money laundering charges for stealing more of $ 835,000 at her workplace to support her. secular lifestyle, prosecutors said.

From 2008 to 2018, Kreuper embezzled money from St. James Catholic School, where, as principal, she was responsible for the money the school received from tuition and charitable donations. According to the Justice Department, Kreuper had access to the school’s savings account and a credit union account that paid for the living expenses of other nuns who worked at the school.

In his plea deal, Kreuper admitted to falsifying monthly and annual reports to the school administration in order to cover up his embezzlement. She also “rocked the St. James School and administration into believing that the school’s finances were properly accounted for and that its financial assets were properly safeguarded, which in turn enabled [her] to maintain its access to and control over the school’s finances and accounts and thus continue to exploit the fraudulent scheme. “

Kreuper admitted that she used the embezzled funds “to pay for expenses the ordinance would not approve, let alone pay”, including gambling expenses in Nevada.

Prosecutors also charged Kreuper with ordering school employees to alter or destroy financial records during a school audit.

Kreuper’s lawyers told the Washington Post on Wednesday that she was “very remorseful” and “sorry for the harm she has caused”.

“As soon as she was confronted, she accepted full responsibility for what she had done and she fully cooperated with law enforcement and the archdiocese,” her lawyers told the outlet, adding that “Later in her life she suffered from a mental illness that clouded her judgment and caused her to do something that she wouldn’t have done otherwise.”

Kreuper was 18 when she became a nun and spent the next six decades in church, according to The Post. She became principal of St. James Catholic School in 1990.

After Kreuper’s retirement in 2018, a financial review conducted by the school for the new principal revealed his plans, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2018. The archdiocese alerted authorities to their discovery soon after.

The Order of the Sisters agreed to reimburse the school and impose “appropriate” penalties and sanctions against Kreuper, the LA Times reported.

Kreuper has agreed to plead guilty to fraud and money laundering charges that carry a maximum legal sentence of 40 years in federal prison, according to the Justice Department.

She will then appear in court for arraignment on July 1.

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