Nun who took vow of poverty faces prison after admitting stealing $835,000 from school for gambling


Gambling habit: Retired nun who took vow of poverty faces up to 40 years in federal prison after admitting stealing more than $835,000 to cover casino debts and credit card bills

  • Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, embezzled funds from St James Catholic School, LA
  • The retired nun was charged with wire fraud and money laundering on Tuesday
  • As school principal for 28 years, she controlled the accounts at a credit union

Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, has agreed to plead guilty to stealing $835,000 from a school

Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, has agreed to plead guilty to stealing $835,000 from a school

A nun who took a vow of poverty has agreed to plead guilty to stealing more than $800,000 from a school to fund her gambling habit.

Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, from Los Angeles faces up to 40 years in jail for embezzling funds from St. James Catholic School in Torrance.

She was charged on Tuesday with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering, the U.S. attorney’s office said.  

Prosecutors said that in a plea agreement also filed Tuesday, the now-retired nun acknowledged that over a decade ending in 2018, she embezzled about $835,000 in donations, tuition and fee money.

Kreuper, who was the school principal for 28 years, ‘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,’ the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Her scheme was discovered in 2018 after an investigation into an old check. 

In her plea agreement, Kreuper acknowledged diverting money to pay for personal expenses that included credit card charges and ‘large gambling expenses incurred at casinos,’ the U.S. attorney’s office said.  

Kreuper admitted in her plea agreement that she falsified monthly and annual reports to the school administration to cover up her fraudulent conduct and misled her school administration into believing the finances were properly accounted for.

Kreuper, 79, from Los Angeles faces up to 40 years in jail for embezzling funds from St. James Catholic School (pictured)

Kreuper, 79, from Los Angeles faces up to 40 years in jail for embezzling funds from St. James Catholic School (pictured)

The criminal information also alleges that Kreuper directed St. James School employees to alter and destroy financial records during a school audit, the Justice Department statement said.

A statement from her attorneys said that Kreuper was ‘very remorseful for what happened’ and had been cooperating with law enforcement and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Kreuper became a nun at 18, said the statement, reported by KNX-AM radio.

‘Unfortunately, later in her life she has been suffering from a mental illness that clouded her judgment and caused her to do something that she otherwise would not have done,’ the statement said. 

‘She is very sorry for any harm she has caused.’ 

Kreuper has agreed to appear in United States District Court for an arraignment on July 1. 



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