California nun pleads guilty to stealing over $800K to fund gambling habit

Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper allegedly embezzled money from the Catholic school she headed to pay for casino trips and other expenses.

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Retired nun Mary Margaret Kreuper
Retired nun Mary Margaret Kreuper allegedly funneled over $800K from St. James Catholic School in Torrance, L.A. County
(St. James Catholic Church)

A California nun will plead guilty to stealing over $800,000 from the Catholic elementary school she ran to help fund her gambling habit.

Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, was charged Tuesday with wire fraud and money laundering for swindling St. James Catholic School in Torrance over a period of 10 years, beginning in 2008, according to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.

Kreuper, who was the principal of the school for nearly three decades until her retirement in 2018, agreed to plead guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors.

She exploited her position to embezzle $835,339 of school funds for costs that “the order would not have approved, much less paid for,” such as “large gambling expenses incurred at casinos and certain credit card charges,” according to the plea agreement.

As principal, the nun managed the school’s bank accounts and oversaw its financial affairs, including the receipt of tuition money, fees and charitable donations.

She was also a signatory on the school’s credit union accounts, to which she diverted other funds for her own personal use, according to prosecutors.

Kreuper admitted falsifying the school’s monthly and annual financial reports in order to conceal her ungodly scheme.

Kreuper’s attorney, Mark Byrne, said in a statment to the Los Angeles Times that the retired nun was “very remorseful for what happened.”

“Unfortunately, later in her life 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,” the statement said.

If convicted, Kreuper faces up to 40 years in federal prison.

She is due to be arraigned on July 1.

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