A California nun is heading to jail after she admitted to stealing more than $835,000 in funds from a Catholic school to pay off her credit card and gambling debts.
Mary Margaret Kreuper, 80, of Arlington Heights in Los Angeles, was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay $825,338 in restitution, reports CBS News.
She pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering after stealing the money during the 10 years she worked as principal at St. James Catholic school.
She also admitted to embezzling donations and tuition to the school.
“I have sinned, I’ve broken the law and I have no excuses,” Kreuper said during her sentencing, according to The Guardian.
“My actions were in violation of my vows, my commandments, the law and, above all, the sacred trust that so many had placed in me.”
Kreuper said she had used some of the money to pay for vacations to Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe, as well as “large gambling expenses incurred at casinos,” reports the Associated Press.
Her lawyer revealed that Kreuper had a gambling addiction and had been living under “severe restriction” at her convent for the last three years.
According to Los Angeles Times, Otis D. Wright II, the U.S. district judge overseeing the case, said he wrestled with the sentence and, at times, looked pained while delivering his verdict.
He said Kreuper was “one heck of a teacher” and that he couldn’t solely judge her on “the worst thing that she’s done in her life.”
“I haven’t slept well in God knows how long,” Wright said of his struggles with the case during a Zoom hearing, according to the newspaper.
But he also praised Kreuper for her 28 years as principal of the school, saying that she likely made a positive impact on many students over the years.
Kreuper – who had taken a vow of poverty – wiped away tears during the judge’s remarks and apologized for her crimes.
“I was wrong, and I am profoundly sorry for the pain and the suffering that I have caused so many people,” she told the judge.
— With a file from the Associated Press