An elderly nun, who admitted stealing $835,000 to fund a series of lavish trips to Las Vegas, has been jailed for a year.
Mary Margaret Kreuper, who has since turned 80, pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and money laundering at a court hearing in California yesterday, and has been sentenced to 12 months behind bars.
Like all those who dedicate their lives to religious service, Kreuper swore to a life of poverty and virtue when she was read her vows more than 60 years ago, but somewhere along the line she discovered a taste for fast living.
Appointed as the headmistress of a Roman Catholic school near to Los Angeles, she managed to embezzle the mammoth sum without anybody noticing, and admitted to using large chunks of the cash to spend on blow outs in the casinos of Las Vegas.
Confirming the extent of her crimes, the court was told how Kreuper channelled money paid to the school in charitable donations – which she had asked parents to make – and tuition fees into her a secret account that only she had access to.
And when a visit from auditors was scheduled, she told school staff to destroy documents that would have given away her nefarious scheme.
The attorney for the prosecution, Poonam Kumar, argued that Kreuper’s actions should be seen as a betrayal of the standards she had been employed to instil in her students.
“This was really an abuse of position of trust. She was the principal. She was running the school that these parents had chosen to send their children, and not just for the academics. Many of the letters I cited, and many of the people who spoke, talked about wanting something more from their children’s education.
“They wanted to get a Catholic education with the morals and values that they believed in and that they lead their lives in, and that’s what they were looking for in the school. So, there were a considerable number of parents who were very upset and obviously feeling quite betrayed. There were parents who spoke today about how their kids are no longer affiliated with the church.”
Priest On Patrol
Eventually, Kreuper’s activities were rumbled by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who she told that she felt nuns deserved a pay rise because they earned less than priests.
Kreuper’s legal team battled for her to serve her sentence at the convent where she has been residing, however Judge Otis Wright II decided that imprisonment was the only option available to him.
“Somewhere along the line, you just ran completely off the road, and I think you understand that. At least I hope you do,” he concluded.
“I have sinned, I have broken the law, and I have no excuses,” Kreuper told the judge at her court hearing.
She also admitted that her thievery was a ‘violation of my vows, the commandments, the law, and above all the sacred trust that so many had placed in me.”