Thou shall not steal! Nuns allegedly swipe HALF A MILL to gamble, travel

Two California nuns are accused of stealing upwards of $500,000 in funds meant to be allocated to a school they worked for, but who officials said went towards lavish vacations and casino trips instead, a church official said Monday. The archdiocese is reportedly refusing to press charges against against the women, who are thought to have been embezzling from the establishment for about 10 years.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports that Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang, “embezzled as much as $500,000 in tuition, fees and donations” intended for St. James Catholic School in Torrance, located in Los Angeles County. Keuper served as the school’s principal, while Lana was a teacher at the place of worship.

School officials reportedly announced at a meeting led Monday evening by the church’s monsignor, Michael Meyers, that the sisters, who were reportedly close friends, were reported to police after they became “involved in the personal use of a substantial amount of school funds.”

However, the newspaper reports the “archdiocese and the church were not pursuing criminal charges” against the women, citing that the duo were said to be “remorseful” for their alleged actions and acknowledged their wrongdoing.

It was reportedly stated at the meeting that the number could be higher, as it represents just “six years of bank records and might not include other cash transactions,” according to the Press-Telegram. Meyers said the alleged scandal is believed to have occurred over a 10-year-period.

The revelation reportedly came to light about six months ago, when a probe into the matter was launched after a “standard audit of procedures” was implemented in accordance with Kreuper retiring. She reportedly worked at the school for 28 years. Meyers told alumni and parents of students at the school in the meeting that the woman acted “very nervous and very anxious” regarding the audit. Chang was reportedly retiring at the same time as Kreuper, after working at the school for approximately 20 years.

Further, it was reported by the newspaper that suspicions were raised after someone who had given the church’s school a check asked for a copy, after which “staff noticed it had been deposited in a bank account other than the school’s.”

Based on the sister’s reported nervousness and apparent misallocation of the school’s check, an “independent forensic auditor” was hired to investigate, leading to the allegations.

Kreuper reportedly “handled all checks made out to the school for tuition and fees,” and allegedly misappropriated the funds into another account.

The women are then thought to have used some of the money for vacations and gambling.

“We do know that 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,” a lawyer for the church, Marge Graf, reportedly stated at the meeting.

While the Press-Telegram said the “archdiocese is cooperating” with authorities, Graf said they refuse to be a “complaining party,” which could make for a difficult or non-existent prosecution.

“Our office doesn’t decline to charge simply because the victim’s future cooperation is problematical,” a spokesperson for the a spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Paul Eakins said. “However, if a victim is not presently cooperating, we may consider that as a factor in determining whether a case can be successfully prosecuted.”

[Feature photo: Pixabay]