Catholic Nuns Embezzle Half-Million Dollars on Luxurious Trips, Casino Betting
Two nuns broke their vow of poverty in a multiyear embezzlement scheme that cost one school at least $500,000.
Two nuns at the St. James Catholic School in Redondo Beach of Southern California admitted to using school funds for their personal use in a multiyear embezzlement scheme while telling parents the school was operating on a shoestring budget, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet embezzled at least $500,000 in school funds over six years on casinos and trips among other personal frivolities.
Kreuper was the school principal and Chang a teacher. Both resigned earlier this year. Kreuper retired after 28 years at the school, but a standard audit begun six months ahead of her retirement revealed she had been involved in significant embezzlement in collusion with Chang. The financial review also became necessary with a new leadership at the school, wrote Monsignor Michael Meyers, pastor of the St. James Catholic School, in a letter to parents.
The Nuns Used a Forgotten Bank Account to Perpetrate the Fraud
The misappropriated funds were largely school fees, tuition and donations made out to the school. According to Meyers, the $500,000 stolen funds were discovered from bank records run by Kreuper and Chang within a six-year period – and that total does not include cash transactions. Kreuper handled all incoming donations and checks, but would deposit some of the funds in an old bank account opened in 1997 that only she and Chang knew about. Kreuper stamped “St. James Convent” on the checks instead of “St. James School” to deceive everyone.
Meyers said Kreuper became “very nervous and very anxious” when the school began a financial review. According to ABC News, Meyers claimed the Archdiocese of Los Angeles did not initially plan to prosecute both Kreuper and Chang, but given the extent of the fraud, the school might press charges. No other school staff members were implicated in the long-term fraud.
Kreuper and Chang Ask for Forgiveness and Prayers
Meyers said both nuns are deeply remorseful for their actions, and ask for forgiveness and prayers from the church and school parents. He added the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet order have promised to offset the entire loss of funds through restitution. The school will also be imposing “appropriate penalties and sanctions” on the accused in line with the regulations of the order.
“They and their Order pray that you have not lost trust or faith in the educators and administrators of the school,” Meyers wrote in his letter to parents. “Let us pray for our school families and for Sister Mary Margaret and Sister Lana.”
The fraud has not impacted the students or any academic programs in any way, Meyers offered. He added that the school has instituted additional oversight policies to ensure no one else is able to engage in any financial misconduct.