A retiree now admitted to embezzling $ 835,000 over 10 years from a Catholic school in California to fund her gambling habit, according to federal prosecutors.
Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, a former principal at St James Catholic School in Torrance, California, used tuition fees and donations to subsidize casino gambling expenses and credit card payments, authorities said. .
Kreuper, who took vows of poverty at age 18 and spent 59 years in the religious order, said in his plea agreement that he had begun diverting money from the school tuition and donation account to a savings account that he financed. the living expenses of the nuns who worked at the school and then used some of the money herself.
According to prosecutors, Kreuper admitted that he falsified monthly and annual reports to the school administration to cover up his fraudulent conduct and “led St James School and the administration to believe that the school’s finances were properly accounted for and its financial assets were properly safeguarded, which , in turn, allowed the defendant Kreuper to maintain her access to and control of the school’s finances and accounts and thus continue to operate the fraudulent scheme. “
In a statement to The Washington Post, Kreuper’s lawyers said she is “very sorry” and “sorry for the damage she has caused.”
“As soon as she was confronted, she accepted full responsibility for what she had done and has fully cooperated with the police and the archdiocese,” the statement said, adding that “she has been suffering from a mental illness that clouded her judgment.” .
The scheme was discovered during an audit after Kreuper retired in 2018. Prosecutors said she had also instructed school employees to “tamper with and destroy financial records.”
Kreuper is due to appear in court on July 1 and faces up to 40 years in federal prison.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles said in a statement that “the faith community in St. James was shocked and saddened by these actions” and expressed its gratitude “to local and federal law enforcement agencies for their work in investigating this matter.”