'Sister Act' nuns admit embezzling cash to fund gambling spree in Vegas

Two Catholic nuns accused of embezzling $500,000 from a school and using it to gamble

Nuns misappropriated $500K in school funds, spending some on gambling: Church

Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, and Sister Lana Chang, principal, and longtime teacher respectively, at St. James Catholic School were caught after a family asked for a copy of an old check.

But when the staff at St. James Catholic School in Torrance retrieved it, they realized it had been deposited into a different account-one opened in 1997 and "long forgotten" by all but two nuns, who the school now says used it to embezzle up to $500,000.

The paper reports that the $500,000 figure "represents only what auditors have been able to trace in six years' of bank records" - and that many more cash transactions may be unaccounted for.

Having initially said it would not press charges, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angelese told Catholic News Service (CNA) on 10 December that the archdiocese will become a "complaining party" in the case.

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The duo allegedly kept their scam going for about a decade, pilfering from Saint James Catholic School in Torrance, located 26 miles south of Los Angeles, Archdiocese of Los Angeles media relations director Adrian Alarcon said. They are said to be best friends, and are both recently retired.

The scandal only came to light last week when the church's small, K-8 school announced that it had notified police that Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, and Sister Lana Chang, who both had retired earlier this year, were "involved in the personal use of a substantial amount of school funds".

Sister Mary Margaret had been principal of the school for 28 years before retiring in June, CNN said. The nuns then allegedly spent some of the money on gambling and traveling over the years.

Meyers said the school had always operated in the black, making things less suspicious, according to the Press-Telegram. He concluded, "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".

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"They pray that you have not lost trust or faith in the educators and administrators of the school", he said.

The sisters used a majority of the money for "personal gain", officials said.

Monsignor Meyers wrote: "I want to assure you that the investigation has disclosed that, notwithstanding this misappropriation, no student or program at St. James has suffered any loss of educational resources, opportunities or innovations".

"Our community is concerned and saddened by this situation and regret any injury to our long relationship with the families of the school", the sisters' order said in a statement on the Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet website.

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