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Gambling nuns embezzled $500,000 to fund casino trips

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A pair of retired nuns who spent decades working in a catholic school in Torrance, California have been accused of embezzling fees, donation and tuition from the school’s accounts. It is believed the pair misappropriated over a half a million dollars in school funds to spend on gambling trips to casinos all while telling the school community they were operating on a shoestring budget.

Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, former principal of St. James Catholic School in Torrance, California, and Sister Lana Chang, who worked as a teacher, had been siphoning school funds into a “long forgotten” account to which only they had access.

Kreuper recently retired from the school after almost three decades of service. As part of her role as principal, she handled money related to tuition and school fees. Allegedly, she failed to hand over all cheques to bookkeeping staff for processing, the withheld cheques were falsely endorsed under the fake name, St James Convent and deposited into the secret account.

The church’s monsignor Michael Meyers told parents that an independent investigation was launched after “something was off” and Sister Kreuper became “very nervous and very anxious” about a routine audit to be conducted before her retirement and the subsequent change of leadership.

The travelling undertaken by the nuns was common knowledge, however the two claimed the trips were funded by a rich uncle.

When asked where the money had gone, Archdiocese lawyer Marge Graf told parents that “we do know that they had a pattern of going on trips, we do know they had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account.”

School officials say both nuns have expressed “deep remorse” for their actions and have been removed from the ministry.

Police have been alerted however the archdiocese is declining to press charges. Instead, it “plans to have the Archdiocese, the School and the Order address the situation internally through the investigation, restitution and sanctions on the Sisters.”

It is understood that the nuns’ order, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, intends to pay full restitution to the school.

Image credit: Sister Act 2