Torrance Nun accused of gambling with school funds – NBC Los Angeles
The retired principal of a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, who as a nun took a vow of poverty, appeared in court Thursday for the first time since she confessed to the theft of more than $ 835,000 from school funds to pay for play trips and other personal expenses. and was released on her own recognizance.
Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, of Los Angeles, will plead guilty on July 22 to wire fraud and money laundering charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The charges carry up to 40 years in federal prison.
After Kreuper was indicted last month, her attorneys released a statement saying that Sister Mary Margaret “has a lot of remorse for what happened. As soon as she was confronted, she accepted full responsibility for what she had done and fully cooperated with law enforcement and the Archdiocese. “
According to defense attorneys Mark A. Byrne and Daniel V. Nixon, Kreuper became a nun at the age of 18 and, for the next 59 years, “dedicated her life to helping others and educating children in archdiocesan schools. Sadly, later in her life she suffered from a mental illness that clouded her judgment and caused her to do something she wouldn’t have done otherwise.
Kreuper admitted that during a 10-year period ending in September 2018, she embezzled money from St. James Catholic School. As principal – a position she held for 28 years before retiring – Kreuper was responsible for the money the school received to pay tuition and fees, as well as for charitable donations , according to his plea agreement filed in federal court in Los Angeles. .
Kreuper controlled accounts at a credit union, including a savings account for the school and an account established to pay the living expenses of nuns employed by the school, prosecutors said.
Kreuper diverted funds from the school to the St. James Convent Account and the St. James Savings Account, and then, as she admitted in her plea deal, used the embezzled funds “to pay expenses that the ordinance would not have approved, let alone paid. , including large gambling expenses incurred in casinos and certain credit card charges. “
Kreuper further admitted that she falsified monthly and annual reports to the school administration to cover up her fraudulent conduct and “made St. James School and administration believe that the school’s finances school were properly accounted for and its financial assets were properly safeguarded, which in turn enabled Defendant Kreuper to maintain its access to and control over the school’s finances and accounts and, thus, to continue to exploit the fraudulent scheme. “
Prosecutors also argue that Kreuper instructed St. James School employees to alter and destroy financial records during a school audit.
Kreuper admitted that during the program, she caused losses to St. James Catholic School totaling $ 835,339, according to the US attorney’s office.