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Nun to plead guilty to stealing more than $800K from school to pay for gambling habit

The 79-year-old now-retired nun embezzled the money over the course of a decade when she was the school's principal.
Credit: smolaw11 - stock.adobe.com

LOS ANGELES — A now-retired Los Angeles nun who took a vow of poverty has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges for stealing more than $800,000 to pay for a gambling habit. 

According to the U.S. attorney's office, 79-year-old Mary Margaret Kreuper was charged Tuesday with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.

For a period of 10 years ending in September 2018, the U.S. attorney's office says Kreuper embezzled a total of $835,339 from St. James Catholic School. 

Before her retirement, Kreuper was principal of the school for 28 years and was responsible for the money the school got to pay for tuition and fees, and for charitable donations, according to a release.

Kreuper diverted school 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," the release stated. 

The U.S. attorney's office says Kreuper also admitted she falsified monthly and annual reports to the school administration to cover up what she'd done and "lulled St. James School and the Administration into believing the school's finances were being properly accounted for and its  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.” 

According to a release, Kreuper also allegedly told a school employee to alter and destroy financial records during a school audit. 

Kreuper will be arraigned on July 1, the U.S. attorney's office said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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