The retired principal of a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, who took a vow of poverty as a nun, appeared in court on Thursday for the first time since he confessed to stealing more than $ 835,000 in school fees to pay for gaming trips and other personal expenses and was released on her own approval.
Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, from Los Angeles, will plead guilty on July 22, according to the US Attorney’s Office. The charges can last up to 40 years in federal prison.
After Kreuper was charged last month, her lawyers issued a statement saying that Sister Mary Margaret “is very remorseful for what happened. Once confronted, she took full responsibility for what she did and she worked fully with law enforcement and the archdiocese. “
According to defense lawyers Mark A. Byrne and Daniel V. Nixon, Kreuper became a nun at the age of 18 and devoted her life to helping others and educating children in the archdiocese schools for the next 59 years. Unfortunately later in life, she suffers from a mental illness that has clouded her judgment and led her to do something she would not otherwise have done. She is very sorry that she caused damage. “
Kreuper admitted that she was embezzling money from St. James Catholic School for a period of 10 years ending September 2018. As headmistress – a position she held for 28 years before retiring – Kreuper was responsible for the money the school received for paying tuition and fees, as well as charitable donations, according to her in federal court in Los Angeles Angeles filed informed consent.
Kreuper controlled accounts with a credit union, including a savings account for the school and one set up to pay the living expenses of the nuns employed by the school, prosecutors said.
Kreuper diverted school fees to the St. James Convent account and the St. James savings account and then, as she admitted in her Settlement Agreement, used the diverted funds “to pay for expenses that the arrangement would not have approved, let alone paid “. including high gambling spending at casinos and certain credit card fees. “
Kreuper also admitted that she had forged monthly and annual reports to the school administration to cover up her fraudulent behavior and “lulled St. James School and the administration into believing that the school’s finances were properly accounting and you financial assets are properly secured, which, in turn, allowed the Defendant Kreuper to maintain her access to and control of the school’s finances and accounts and thus continue to operate the fraudulent system. “
Prosecutors also allege Kreuper instructed St. James School staff to modify and destroy financial records during a school exam.
Kreuper admitted she had incurred a total of $ 835,339 in losses over the course of the St. James Catholic School program, US prosecutors said.