Two nuns have admitted that they stole close to $500,000 from a Catholic school in California and used the money to go on gambling trips in Las Vegas, a report noted.
Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang told parish officials that they embezzled the money from St. James Catholic School in Torrance, California, by diverting tuition money into a private bank account. As the Independent reported, the recently retired nuns had both worked at the school for more than two decades.
Sister Kreuper was the school’s principal for 29 years, KABC reported. After her retirement, the school underwent a financial audit with the leadership change and it turned up a large deficit. Auditors said they found close to $500,000 tied to the private bank account but said there could have been more cash transactions that did not show up.
The school assured parents that the deficit did not affect any students at the school.
“We have initiated additional procedures and oversight policies for financial management and reporting responsibilities,” the pastor of the parish said in a statement. “No student or program at St. James has suffered any loss of educational resources, opportunities, or innovations.”
Parents had first been alerted of the allegations in November, but the full extent of the embezzlement was not revealed until this week. School officials said the nuns concealed the transactions by depositing some tuition checks into their own private account, keeping it from administrators in the diocese.
“We do know that they had a pattern of going on trips. We do know they had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account,” a lawyer for the school told parents and alumni at a recent meeting (via the Telegraph).
Despite the apologies from the school, some parents are still angry.
“These nuns took a vow of poverty and said, ‘Oh no, we’ve got a rich uncle,’ The rich uncle was the parents of the St. James students,” said Jack Alexander, the parent of a student at the school (via the Telegraph).
It was not clear if the nuns will face any criminal charges.
The nuns have apologized for stealing the money to fund their Las Vegas trips and asked for forgiveness. They have also pledged to pay back the school. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the order where both nuns belonged, also issued an apology to parents.