A nun and former principal of St. James Catholic School in Torrance, has agreed to plead guilty to fraud and money laundering charges for stealing more than $835,000 in school funds to pay for personal expenses, including gambling trips.
Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, who is now retired was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Prosecutors filed a plea agreement in which Kreuper agreed to plead guilty to the two charges that carry a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in federal prison.
Over a 10 years’ period ending in September 2018 as the principal, Kreuper diverted money from St. James Catholic School, money the school received to pay for tuition and fees, as well as for charitable donations while she was in control of accounts at a credit union, including a savings account for the school and one established to pay the living expenses of the nuns employed by the school.
Kreuper, who as a nun had taken a vow of poverty, diverted school funds into the St. James Convent Account and the St. James Savings Account and then, as she admitted in her plea agreement, used the diverted funds “to pay for expenses that the order would not have approved, much less paid for, including large gambling expenses incurred at casinos and certain credit card charges.”
Kreuper successfully fooled the School administration into believing that the school’s finances were being properly accounted for and its financial assets properly safeguarded, which, in turn, allowed defendant her to continue operating the fraudulent scheme.
Prosecutors also allege that Kreuper directed St. James School employees to alter and destroy financial records during a school audit.
She is scheduled to be arraigned July 1.