These two nuns stole $500K from school funds and went on a gambling binges and holidays

These two nuns stole $500K from school funds and went on a gambling binges and holidays

Last month, two Catholic nuns were exposed as criminals after embezzling half a million dollars from a California school in order to go on extravagant holidays and gambling trips.

No, you're not reading the plot of some far-fetched comedy blockbuster - this is 100 per cent true.

Parents of pupils at St. James Catholic School in Redondo Beach, about 20 miles southwest of Los Angeles, were made aware of the criminal activity of Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang in November when the school's pastor, Monsignor Michael Meyers, wrote to inform them that a significant amount of money had been stolen over a period of at least six years.

The nuns' scam was exposed when the school conducted an audit "in connection with a change in leadership" which saw Kreuper step down as headmistress after working at St. James for 28 years.

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Staff at the school first became suspicious that something was wrong six months ago, when it was noticed that a cheque made out to the institution by a parent was deposited into an unknown account. After some investigation, it turned out that the account was opened by Kreuper in 1997.

According to auditors, Kreuper had been accepting all cheques that were made out to the school and keeping some back to deposit in her personal account (which only she and Chang knew about) before passing along the remainder to be officially logged.

Some reports are saying that the two women had been embezzling funds for a decade, but others have claimed the $500,000 figure comes from the past six years of bank records, and the final sum could indeed be much higher as cash transactions are not recorded.

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Meyers initially told parents that the nuns feel "deep remorse" for their actions and are asking for "forgiveness and prayers".

"They and their Order pray that you have not lost trust or faith in the educators and administrators of the school," Meyers wrote in his letter to parents. "Let us pray for our school families and for Sister Mary Margaret and Sister Lana."

He also reported that the pair had promised to repay what they'd taken, and therefore the school would not be pressing charges. However, a spokesperson for the archdiocese has since claimed that they will be pursuing legal action against them, as further details of how they used the money has since emerged.

It is now believed that Kreuper and Chang spent the funds on luxurious holidays and nights of carefree gambling - all while their school was operating on "a shoestring budget".

A judge's gavel in court. Credit: Getty

Kreuper and Chang have yet to publicly comment on their actions or the responses they've received from parents of students at the school, and it is unclear whether they have sought legal advice on their current position.

Even if the sisters' order does pay off their debt (which it has promised to do), many feel that the nuns ultimately broke the law, and therefore should be held to the same standards as everyone else, regardless of their religious status.