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Nun's bad habit leads to prosecution.

FCRO Subsection: 
Editorial Staff

Sometimes the headlines just write themselves.

Like this one.

Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, of Los Angeles, was charged yesterday with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. In a plea agreement Kreuper has pleaded guilty to the two charges that carry a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in federal prison.

As a nun, Kreuper had taken a vow of poverty. For many years, she was the principal of a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, California.

Over a period of 10 years ending in September 2018, Kreuper embezzled money from St. James' Catholic School. 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. She had personal control over 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.

Kreuper diverted school funds into the St. James' Convent Account and the St. James' Savings Account and then used the diverted funds for her own purposes . In support of her plea agreement she said it was “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.”

Kreuper further admitted in her plea agreement that she falsified monthly and annual reports to the school administration to cover up her fraudulent conduct and “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 criminal information also alleges that Kreuper directed St. James' School employees to alter and destroy financial records during a school audit.

As if the headline isn't bad enough, there's a question for you. How many times did you think "Kreuper" is very like "croupier"?

Kreuper admitted that, over the course of the scheme, she caused losses to St. James Catholic School totaling $835,339.

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