Nun Jailed for Stealing Money to Fund Gambling Habit

Nun Jailed for Stealing Money to Fund Gambling Habit

You might think that the life of a nun is all about singing hymns and a lot of praying. It may be for some but not for Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper. The 80-year-old American nun was jailed on Monday February 7 for a year and a day. Her crime was stealing over $800,000 and the money was needed to fund her gambling habits.

Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper was still working as a principal of the St James Catholic School in Torrence, close to Los Angeles. A California court heard how $835,000 of school funds found a different use thanks to the Sister.

The funds had been donated to the school. Its aim was to help pay for tuition fees and charitable donations. However, that is not what happened to the funds. Rather than helping the school, some of that amount was used by the Sister for her gambling trips to Las Vegas. That wasn’t all though, more money was used to pay for her luxury trips to Temecula and Lake Tahoe, to name but two.

The nun had admitted to charges of wire fraud and money laundering last July. Her sentencing didn’t take place until 2022, so she had a lot to think about over Christmas.

Kreuper had diverted the funds into secret accounts that she had opened. Then came an audit of the school accounts and the nun knew her wrongdoings were in danger of being revealed. She asked other school employees to destroy documents that would reveal all was not well with the school accounts.

Priests better paid than nuns?

Eventually, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles confronted the nun. A discussion on the wages she received soon developed. The complaint was that priests are better paid than nuns and the Sister believed a pay increase was due. After being charged, she claimed that mental illness had clouded her judgement. Her embezzlement of funds started back in 2018.

Her punishment was decided by District Judge Otis D Wright. At last year’s plea hearing, he’d told how he was raised as a Roman Catholic and educated by nuns. He added that “I don’t look at nuns as ordinary people.”

When sentencing Kreuper, the judge told her that he recognised the fact she’d been a good teacher over several decades. She’d been a nun since the age of 18 and retired when 77. However, he then told her: “But somewhere along the line, you just ran completely off the road, and I think you understand that. At least I hope you do.”

He then sentenced her to 12 months and one day in jail. Prosecutors had wanted a 24-month prison sentence, three years of supervised release, and restitution. The latter of those demands has been met. The nun has been ordered to pay $825,338.57 in restitution. Failure to do so could see her back in jail.

The nun admits that she has sinned and broken the law and has “no excuses.” In a statement that she made to the Los Angeles Times, she added that stealing the money was “a violation of my vows, the commandments, the law, and above all the sacred trust that so many had placed in me”.