Religious sister sentenced to prison for embezzling from Los Angeles Catholic school

Kate Olivera   By Kate Olivera for CNA


Inked Pixels/Shutterstock.

Los Angeles, Calif., Feb 8, 2022 / 13:07 pm (CNA).

A Catholic religious sister and longtime school principal has been sentenced to a year in federal prison for embezzling more than $800,000 from a Los Angeles-area elementary school.

“I have sinned, I’ve broken the law and I have no excuses,” Mary Margaret Kreuper reportedly told the court. “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.”

The 80-year-old sister pleaded guilty in July 2021 to wire fraud and money laundering.

She admitted to diverting more than $835,000 in donations, tuition, and fees from St. Joseph School in Torrance from 2008 to 2018. She reportedly used the money for gambling, trips, and other personal expenses.

An audit in 2018 uncovered the embezzlement.

In addition to serving time, U.S. District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II also reportedly ordered Kreuper to pay more than $825,000 to the school as restitution.

Kreuper was principal at St. James Catholic School for 28 years.

Another religious sister originally implicated in the case did not face any charges. Both sisters retired from the school in 2018.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles originally planned to file a criminal complaint against the sisters for misappropriation of funds but ultimately decided the matter would be handled internally.

The sisters are members of the Los Angeles Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cardondelet. In 2018, the community declined to defend the actions of the sisters.

“As a religious community we will not defend the actions of our Sisters,” the community wrote in a 2018 statement. “What happened is wrong. Our Sisters take full responsibility for the choices they made and are subject to the law.”

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