An 80-year-old nun and former principal of a Catholic elementary school in Los Angeles who plead guilty to stealing $835,000 of the schools’ funds, was sentenced to one year in prison.
Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, 80, pleaded guilty in July to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering from St. James Catholic School, in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance, where she worked for 28 years.
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II finalized Kreuper’s sentencing and ordered her to pay back the school in full, accounting for $10,000 that she has already paid back, Los Angeles Times reported.
“I have sinned, I’ve broken the law and I have no excuses,” Kreuper said to Wright during her sentencing.
“My actions were in violation of my vows, my commandments, the law and, above all, the sacred trust that so many had placed in me. I was wrong and I’m profoundly sorry for the pain and suffering I’ve caused so many people,” she said.
It became prevalent that Kreuper had a gambling problem. She used the money to pay off credit cards and for vacations to Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe, the Los Angeles Times reported. Nuns take a strict vow of poverty.
In June, she admitted that the money was used “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.”
According to prosecutors, the money Kreuper embezzled included donations, tuition and fees. They also noted that she took advantage of her status to keep the ongoing theft under the radar for years.
“Nuns should realize that just by living their lives and living the way they do and treating people the way they do, they affect children for the rest of their lives,” Wright said during the hearing according to Los Angeles Times.
Kreuper admitted her wronging during the hearing and took responsibility for the pain and suffering that she caused the parents and children of the school.
“I was wrong, and I am profoundly sorry for the pain and the suffering that I have caused so many people,” Kreuper told Wright.
“I apologize for the public scandal, the embarrassment and the financial burden that I have placed on the sisters in my religious community, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, St. James School, the parishioners, parents and students who placed their trust in me,” she said.
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