Two nuns admit embezzling $500k cash for Las Vegas gambling trips
An old cheque has allegedly exposed decades of lies.
For nearly 28 years, Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper was the principal at St James Catholic School, an elementary school in Torrance, California, a coastal suburb southwest of Los Angeles.
Around the same time as Kreuper announced she was retiring earlier this year, a family at the school asked for a copy of an old cheque they had written to St James.
When staff members found it, they realised it had not been deposited in St James's bank account but a different one.
That was among the first clues that would unravel a vast fraud that was allegedly conducted by Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang, another nun and long-time St James teacher.
School officials recently told parents the two nuns had stolen around $500,000 (€440,000) from the school.
It said the two women, reportedly best friends, used the pilfered funds on trips to Las Vegas and casino visits.
"We do know 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," Marge Graf, a lawyer representing St James, told parents.
"We were an ATM, and people know it and they won't ask for justice," said one parent.
It's claimed Kreuper would divert cheques made out for tuition and fees into a forgotten account of the school's.
She allegedly endorsed the cheques with a stamp saying 'St James Convent', not 'St James School'.
The nuns tapped the funds for their personal use, Monsignor Michael Meyers said. They felt deep remorse and asked for forgiveness.