Feb. 8, 2022
A disgraced nun who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Los Angeles Catholic elementary school and went on Vegas gambling sprees will be reciting her penance from inside a federal prison cell.
Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, of Los Angeles, was sentenced Monday to one year and one day for fraud and money laundering charges, the News York Post reported.
The 80-year-old nun also was ordered to pay a total of $825,338.57 in restitution for the money she embezzled while she was a principal at St. James Catholic School in Torrance, Calif.
June 9, 2021
TORRANCE, Calif. – A retired nun who was the principal at St. James Catholic School in Los Angeles County has agreed to plead guilty in connection with stealing more than $835,000 in school funds, officials announced Tuesday. The woman reportedly used the proceeds to pay for personal expenses, which included gambling trips, according to a DOJ press release.
Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, of Los Angeles, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. She agreed to plead guilty to the two charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Central District of California, KTLA reported.
Kreuper was the principal at the Catholic elementary school in Torrance for 28 years. It is overseen by the St. James Church in Redondo Beach. She is accused of embezzling from the school from approximately 2009 — 2018. She had authority over charitable donations, school tuition and fees, as well as credit union accounts for the institution. One account in particular was meant to pay living expenses for nuns employed at the school.
“Kreuper, who as a nun had taken a vow of poverty, diverted school funds into the St. James Convent Account and the St. James Savings Account and then, as she admitted in her plea agreement, used the diverted 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,'” DOJ said in the press statement.
To cover her tracks, Kreuper also admitted to falsifying monthly and annual reports to the school administration, KTLA reported.
Officials said Kreuper “lulled St. James School and the administration into believing that the school’s finances were being properly accounted for and its financial assets properly safeguarded, which, in turn, allowed defendant Kreuper to maintain her access and control of the school’s finances and accounts and, thus, continue operating the fraudulent scheme.”
Moreover, the school principal directed subordinate employees to alter and destroy financial records during a school audit, according to the investigation.
Also implicated in the scheme—discovered during an internal investigation—was Lana Chang, who worked as a teacher at the school before becoming vice principal. It is unclear if she’s been charged.
Both women retired from the school in 2018.
The case was investigated by the Torrance Police Department, FBI, and IRS.
Kreuper is scheduled for arraignment on July 1.