The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has filed a criminal complaint against two nuns who stand accused of embezzling over half a million dollars from a Catholic school.
An investigation by Saint James Catholic School in Torrance, California culminated in a report that two longtime nuns embezzled nearly $500,000 from tuition, fees, and donations. They spent the money on vacations to Lake Tahoe, gambling trips to Las Vegas, and other personal expenses while telling parents the school was operating on a shoestring budget. An attorney for the archdiocese said that the sisters 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.”
Sisters Mary Margaret Kreuper and Lana Chang, part of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet, retired earlier this year and were “involved in the personal use of a substantial amount of school funds.” The discovery was made during a routine audit of school financials associated with Sister Kreuper’s retirement after serving for 28 years as the principal.
A letter sent to school families following the revelations said that sisters expressed “deep remorse” for their actions and have asked for the forgiveness and prayers from members of the parish. The Sisters of Saint Joseph imposed severe canonical sanctions on the two, removing them from public ministry and placing them in separate housing them under the watch of church officials.
“What happened is wrong. Our Sisters take full responsibility for the choices they made and are subject to the law. Our community is concerned and saddened by this situation and regret any injury to our long relationship with the families of the school. The Sisters of St. Joseph both desire and intend to make complete restitution to St. James School.”
Despite stating earlier they would not press charges, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has added themselves as a “complaining party” in the case against them. A spokesperson from the Sisters of Saint Joseph said a formal canonical process “will be determined when the criminal aspect of the case is completed.”