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A retired California nun has agreed to plead guilty to stealing $ 835,339 from a Catholic elementary school she was principal, in part to fund her gambling habit.
Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, is charged with one count of money laundering and one count of wire fraud, the Justice Department said on Tuesday. He said she had agreed to plead to the two federal charges, which carry a maximum prison sentence of 40 years.
According to prosecutors, Kreuper was principal of St. James Catholic School in Torrance for 28 years and admitted to embezzling money from the institution for a decade, ending in 2018.
As a principal, she was responsible for the money the school collected in the form of tuition, fees and charitable donations. She also managed several school bank accounts, including one opened to pay the living expenses of the nuns who worked there.
Instead of handling the money properly, prosecutors said Kreuper admitted to stealing the funds to gamble at casinos and pay his credit card bills. They said she admitted falsifying reports in order to hide her theft from school administrators.
The Justice Department said Kreuper also ordered St. James School employees to destroy financial records during an audit.
Kreuper is expected to make his first court appearance on July 1 arraignment.
An investigation by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles revealed in 2018 that Keuper and another nun, Sister Lana Chang, had embezzled money from the school. At the time, church and archdiocese officials said they had no plans to press charges against the women.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles told Los Angeles TV station KTLA that only Kreuper faces charges in the case and prosecutors consider the investigation closed.