Retired nun who embezzled from school to pay for her gambling habit, sentenced to prison, feds say

Retired nun, who embezzled from St. James Catholic School to pay for her gambling habit, was sentenced to prison on Monday.

By Stella Chan, CNN

(CNN) -- The now-retired nun and former Catholic elementary school principal who admitted to stealing more than $835,000 in school funds for gambling trips and personal expenses was sentenced Monday to 12 months and a day in federal prison, according to federal prosecutors.

US District Judge Otis D. Wright II also ordered Mary Margaret Kreuper, 80, to pay $825,338 in restitution.

In July 2021, Kreuper pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. The US Department of Justice says she was the principal of St. James Catholic School in Torrance, California, for nearly three decades and embezzled $835,339 over a 10-year period.

Federal prosecutors said Kreuper, who had taken a vow of poverty, used money intended for the school to pay for large gambling expenses incurred at casinos, and other charges.

In a sentencing recommendation, prosecutors said Kreuper "stole the equivalent of the tuition of 14 different students per year," arguing that the embezzled funds "were intended to further the students' education, not fund (Kreuper's) lifestyle."

"She is very sorry for what she's done, very remorseful, very ashamed, very embarrassed and accepts full responsibility for her actions," said Kreuper's lawyer, Mark Byrne, to CNN.

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