Two nuns, who formerly worked at a California Catholic school, are awaiting punishment for embezzling nearly $500,000.
According to KDVR, Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang stole funds from St. James Catholic School to spend on various personal expenses. Among those expenses were flights to Las Vegas and gambling.
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) December 10, 2018
Sister Mary Margaret had been a principal at the church school for 28 years before she retired in June. As KDVR reports, an auditor encountered “several red flags” involving checks being deposited into various accounts following her retirement.
Her partner in the crime, Sister Lana Chang had also recently retired. She’d been teaching at the K-8 school for 20 years.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has reported the crime to Torrance Police.
According to Nolo, California law states:
Embezzlement of property, money, or services, and many enumerated items, worth more than $950 is grand theft. A conviction carries a jail sentence of up to one year (a misdemeanor). But state prison time of 16 months, 2, or 3 years is also possible for felony grand theft, for enumerated items.
According to KDVR, the church originally said it did not intend to press charges, but to “address the situation internally through the investigation, restitution and sanctions on the sisters.”
However, as the investigation deepens, ABC7 reports the archdiocese says they are now considering making it a criminal case.
As Complex reports, Monsignor Michael Meyers wrote in a letter to parishioners:
Sister Mary Margaret and Sister Lana have expressed to me and asked that I convey to you, the deep remorse they each feel for their actions and ask for your forgiveness and prayers. They and their Order pray that you have not lost trust or faith in the educators and administrators of the school.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the sisters’ order, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, have teamed up in an effort to replace the funds misused by the embezzling sisters.
The letter written by the monsignor ensures parishioners the school has not and will not allow any of this to affect the education of their children.