Retired nun faces up to 40 years in federal prison after she admitted to stealing more than $800,000 from a school to pay for her gambling debts

Retired nun from California who took a vow of poverty has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $800,000 from the school where she worked as principal to pay her gambling debts. The 79-year-old woman was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. She faces up to 40 years in federal prison if convicted. 

In her plea agreement, Kreuper acknowledged that over the last 10 years, she stole $835,000 in donations, tuition and fee money 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.

Prosecutors also believe that she directed St. James School employees to alter and destroy financial records during a school audit.

For 28 years, Kreuper was the principal of St. James Catholic School in the L.A. suburb of Torrance, until she retired in 2018.

Prosecutors say she controlled the school funds at a credit union, including a savings account for the school and one established to pay the living expenses of the nuns employed by the school.

The theft was noticed during an audit after Kreuper had retired and left St. James school.

Church officials instead stated that they wanted to resolve the matter internally with the money repaid and the nuns disciplined.