Torrance, CA

Retired nun stole $835,000 from Torrance school to cover Vegas gambling “expenses” despite poverty vow

Amy Christie

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Fox 11 Los Angeles/ YouTube screenshot

A retired nun has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $800,000 from the St. James Catholic School in Torrance, California. The theft happened over a decade, from 2008 to 2018. That was the nun’s last decade from her 28-year tenure as principal at the school.

Sister Kreuper, who also took a vow of poverty, has confessed that she embezzled funds to cover her personal expenses, which included her gambling habit, as The Blaze reports.

How did it all happen?

Kreuper, 79, was charged on Tuesday with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. On the same day the retired nun pleaded guilty to both charges, based on a plea agreement, as the Associated Press notes.

“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,’ the news outlet added.

The retired nun confessed that she took a total of $835,000 in donations from the elementary school. She is currently facing up to 40 years in jail.

“Kreuper also admitted in the plea agreement to falsifying monthly and annual reports to the school's administration to cover up the 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. Kreuper is also accused of directing St. James employees to alter and destroy financial records during a school audit,” KCAL-TV reported.

She was not alone in the embezzlement

St. James teacher Lana Chang also admitted to have been involved in the embezzlement, following each of their retirements in 2018. The pair confessed that the money mainly went into funding their gambling trips to Las Vegas.

In 2018, the school indicated in a letter sent out to parents that it did not wish to pursue criminal charges against the two women, after they both expressed their “desire and intent to make complete restitution to St. James School,”according to Newstalk.

The school soon changed course after a pushback. Parents and alumni were outraged by what happened and told KTTV-TV that pursuing criminal complaints against Kreuper and Chang was the right thing to do.

“It's crazy. It's very disturbing,” one of the parents said for KTTV-TV after the Torrance incident came out.

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

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