In a case that has shocked America, two nuns stole as much as $500,000 (£397,862) from a Catholic school in California and took it to Las Vegas for weekends of sin going back a decade or more.
The pair has admitted how they were illegally funding their pastime, although the Church at this point will not be pressing charges.
Not so heavenly
Sisters Mary Margaret Kreuper and Lana Chang are believed to have siphoned off cash from tuition fees and donations at St. James School in Torrance, near Los Angeles, for at least a decade. Neither has been charged with a crime.
Kreuper was the school’s principal and Chang taught eighth-grade students before they both retired this year. They were best friends, and would often credit “rich relatives” for their weekends of indulgence.
According to a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Adrian Alarcon, the alleged theft was found during a routine audit, which is common after a principal leaves office.
Total may reach $500,000
Although the total taken from the school is still being calculated, some reports have stated that it was up to $500,000. The pair would siphon off money from a tuition account and instead place it into another account that was rarely checked. This would then fund their gambling lifestyle.
Meyers said both nuns acknowledged the theft when confronted, apologized, and are cooperating with an investigation. He said they and their order, the Sisters of St Joseph of Carondelet, had promised to pay back the money.
“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,” Meyers said in his letter. “They and their order pray that you have not lost trust or faith in the educators and administrators of the school.”
The archdiocese has notified the police, but Meyers said church officials did not plan to press charges and instead wanted to resolve the situation internally with the money repaid and the nuns disciplined by their order.
It seems that the two had been using the cash over the past decade to gamble in Las Vegas and elsewhere.
“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,” the school’s attorney, Marge Graf, explained during the meeting, per the Beach Reporter.
However, parents have let the church know that they were not happy with the “tap on the wrist” the nuns have received, especially since some of the projects that the school needed have reportedly gone underfunded.
“I will honestly say that it’s not shocking to me,” one anonymous parent told the local Fox affiliate. “There have been a couple of projects that we have been trying to get funded for many years that we have unfortunately been unable to move forward with because of the lack of funding.”
The sisters have so far apologized for their behavior and have asked the community for forgiveness. In a letter, Meyers added: “Sister Mary Margaret, Sister Lana and their order pray that you have not lost trust or faith in the educators and administrators of the school.”
The nuns have said that they will pay the money back and are prepared to be disciplined by their order.