An 80-year-old nun admitted that she "sinned" and pleaded guilty for stealing $835,000 from the Catholic school where she served as principal for 28 years prior to retirement.
Kreuper is sentenced to one year and one day imprisonment for using the funds of St. James Catholic School in Torrance, California.
The United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California announced last February 7 Kreuper's sentence. The Attorney's Office said Kreuper used the "school funds to pay for personal expenses, including gambling trips." Kreuper have earlier pleaded guilty to "one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering" in July 2021.
According to court documents, Kreuper embezzled the money from the school in a span of ten years ending in September 2018. The nun's responsibility as principal entailed handling funds the school received for tuition, fees, and charitable donations.
She also controlled the credit union accounts, which provided her access to the school's savings account and another account used to pay the expenses of nuns employed in the school.
Despite her vow of poverty as a nun, Kreuper diverted the school's funds into the St. James Convent Account and the St. James Savings Account. She then used the diverted funds "to pay for expenses that the order would not have approved, much less paid for, including large gambling expenses incurred at casinos and certain credit card charges."
Kreuper falsified monthly and annual reports to hide her "fraudulent conduct" and "lulled St. James School and the Administration into believing that the school's finances were being properly accounted for and its financial assets properly safeguarded." This enabled her to continuously have access to the school's finances and accounts and continue her operation over the years.
She also instructed the school's employees to "alter and destroy" the school's financial records every audit.
"On an annualized basis (approximately $83,000 per year), [Kreuper] stole the equivalent of the tuition of 14 different students per year. These funds were intended to further the students' education, not fund [Kreuper's] lifestyle," prosecutors said.
"In their letters [to the court], several students and parents commented on how the school was lacking in resources...Another parent discussed [in a letter to the court] how [Kreuper] said there was no money for an awning at school and no money for field trips," prosecutors continued.
In a teleconference, Kreuper asked forgiveness to the public and to those who she particularly hurt for the sins she has committed. Kreuper conveyed she was "profoundly sorry" for what she has done and will strive to spend the rest of her life "more closely in Christ's footsteps."
"I have sinned, I've broken the law and I have no excuses. My actions were in violation of my vows, my commandments, the law and, above all, the sacred trust that so many had placed in me. I was wrong and I'm profoundly sorry for the pain and suffering I've caused so many people," Kreuper said.
ABC7 said Kreuper's lawyers issued a statement that the nun was suffering "from mental illness that clouded her judgment and caused her to do something that she otherwise would not have done."
The lawyers highlighted that Kreuper, who became a nun at the age of 18, "dedicated her life to helping others and educating children in Archdiocesan schools...As soon as she was confronted, she accepted full responsibility for what she had done and she has cooperated fully with law enforcement and the Archdiocese.''
While U.S. District Court Judge Otis Wright II disclosed that he had difficulty deciding the legal punishment for Kreuper against the pleas of forgiveness from Catholic families taught at the school. Wright also pointed out that, being "educated by nuns," he does not look at them as "ordinary people."