2 nuns are accused of embezzling $500,000 from a Catholic school and allegedly using the money for gambling and travel

ABC NewsSt. James Catholic School in Torrance, California.
  • Sisters Mary Margaret Kreuper and Lana Chang are accused of embezzling $US500,000 from St. James Catholic School in Torrance, California.
  • The pair allegedly spent the money travelling together and gambling at casinos.
  • Both of the nuns retired from the school earlier this year after two decades of teaching.
  • The church and archdiocese have chosen not to press for criminal charges against the nuns.

Two nuns as a Catholic church in Southern California are accused of embezzling $US500,000 from their school and allegedly using the money to travel and gamble, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has said.

Sisters Mary Margaret Kreuper and Lana Chang allegedly took money from tuition, school fees, and donations at St. James Catholic School in Torrance while telling parents the school was operating on a very tight budget, according to The Press Telegram.

The nuns, who have been described as best friends, had been “involved in the personal use of a substantial amount” of school funds “over a period of years,” Monsignor Michael Meyers, pastor for the school, told parents in a letter seen by ABC News.

Sister Mary Margaret retired in June after 28 years as principal of the Catholic school. Sister Lana was an eighth-grade teacher at the school and retired this year after 20 years.

Sister Mary Margaret’s retirement launched a routine audit, that raised “several red flags” of “checks being cashed into different accounts,” Adrian Alarcon, director of media relations for the Los Angeles Archdiocese, told CNN.


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The $US500,000 figure comes from what auditors were able to trace in six years worth of bank records, but officials believe the nuns could have embezzled even more through cash transactions.

At a meeting with parents on Monday, an attorney for the archdiocese alleged more details about the nuns’ spending habits.

“We do know that they 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,” archdiocese lawyer Marge Graf told parents.

While the church and archdiocese have chosen not to press for criminal charges against the sisters, they plan to “address the situation internally through the investigation, restitution, and sanctions on the sisters.”

“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,” Meyers wrote in the letter to parents in November. “They and their Order pray that you have not lost trust or faith in the educators and administrators of the school.”

The nuns’ order, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, has agreed to pay the school back in full for what the nuns are accused of taking.

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