Church says nuns embezzled from SoCal school to cover Vegas gambling trips

KABCTwo nuns have been accused of embezzlement at a St. James Catholic School in Torrance Calif. Dec. 9 2018

KABCTwo nuns have been accused of embezzlement at a St. James Catholic School in Torrance Calif. Dec. 9 2018

The California-based sisters allegedly embezzled the money from fees, donations, and tuition belonging to St. James Catholic School.

The school said Kreuper, a former principal who had been at the school for 29 years, and Chang admitted to stealing the money.

The church and archdiocese chose not to press for criminal charges against the sisters, Meyers said. Archdiocese lawyer Marge Graf told parents that the nuns' order, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, has agreed to pay the school full restitution and impose "severe sanctions" on the two women. Chang retired this year after being an eighth-grade teacher for 20 years. Other staff members at the church were not implicated, Meyers wrote in his letter to parents. School officials recently told parents the two nuns stole around $500,000 from the school. The review determined that Kreuper and Chang had been committing the alleged fraud for at least 10 years.

They described a system in which Kreuper handled all checks meant to the school for tuition and fees before handing them over to bookkeeping.

The nuns then allegedly told parents that the school was operating on a tight budget, said parents and officials.

It was only during a recent audition of the school's accounts that evidence was uncovered suggesting they had been taking money intended for the school and using it to fund trips to a casino where they are thought to have gambled using more ill-gotten gains. "The rich uncle was the parents of the St. James students".

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Meyers said both nuns acknowledged the theft when confronted, apologized and are cooperating with an ongoing investigation.

"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", Monsignor Michael Meyers said in a November 28, 2018 letter to church parishioners.

The letter continued: "I want to assure you that the investigation has disclosed that, notwithstanding this misappropriation, no student or program at St. James has suffered any loss of educational resources, opportunities, or innovations".

ABC News could not reach Kreuper or Chang for comment.

"At our school, we have initiated additional procedures and oversight policies for financial management and reporting responsibilities. I appreciate the efforts of the school staff to date and will continue to work with them directly on these issues".

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