A Los Angeles nun is expected to plead guilty to charges that she embezzled more than $800,000 from a Catholic school she ran for 28 years.
Federal charges were filed against now-retired nun Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, on Tuesday, and she has since agreed to plead guilty, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office of the Central District of California. Kreuper was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.
Kreuper, who took a vow of poverty as a nun, admitted to causing Saint James Catholic school in Torrance, California, to lose $835,339, prosecutors said, adding that the scheme took place over a period of 10 years ending in September 2018. Prosecutors said she used the money to pay for various personal expenses, including a gambling habit.
“As principal, a position she held for 28 years, Kreuper was responsible for the money the school received to pay for tuition and fees, as well as for charitable donations,” the Justice Department said. “Kreuper controlled accounts at a credit union, including a savings account for the school and one established to pay the living expenses of the nuns employed by the school.”
School officials announced in December 2018, after Kreuper retired, they discovered that she and Lana Chang, another nun and teacher at the school, had stolen at least $500,000 from the school together. It is unclear whether Chang will also be charged, as the Tuesday statement did not mention her.
Kreuper’s plea agreement states she “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,” the statement added.
Kreuper faces a maximum 40-year sentence for the two charges, prosecutors said.