11:07 AM PDT, June 9, 2021
A California nun charged with embezzling more than $800,000 that went towards personal expenses and gambling trips may be facing up to 40 years in federal prison, prosecutors said.
Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, of Los Angeles has agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud and money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced on Tuesday.
In a plea agreement filed on Tuesday prosecutors said Kreuper admitted to stealing $835,000 in donations, tuition and fee money from St. James Catholic School, located in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance, the Associated Press reported.
The now-retired Kreuper, who was the school’s principal for 28 years, was in charge of accounts at a credit union that included a savings account for the school and another account to pay for the living expenses for the nuns employed by the school, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
In her plea agreement, Kreuper acknowledged that she falsified monthly and annual reports to the school administration to cover up her fraudulent conduct and “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 said.
Kreuper’s unlawful activity went on for a period of 10 years and ended in September 2018, prosecutors said.
The fraudulent scheme was discovered during an audit after Kreuper retired, USA Today reported.
Criminal information also alleged that Kreuper directed St. James School employees to alter and destroy financial records during a school audit, the release said.
The Torrance Police Department, the FBI, and IRS Criminal Investigation handled the investigation.
Kreuper is scheduled to appear in US District Court for an arraignment on July 1.