Two nuns from a Southern Californian Catholic church are under suspicion of having embezzled school funding up to an amount of $500,000.
Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang reportedly used some of the money – taken from tuition, school fees and donations – to take trips and gamble at casinos.
Kreuper had been a principal at St. James Catholic School in Torrance, while Chang had worked as a teacher. Both sisters, described as being ‘best friends’, had taken retirement earlier this year.
The embezzlement of school funds had reportedly been going on ‘over a period of years,’ with parents being led to believe the school had been operating on a ‘shoestring budget’.
Both nuns have reportedly expressed remorse in regards to their actions, and neither the archdiocese or the church will be pursuing criminal charges.
As reported by the Press Telegram, the church’s monsignor Michael Meyers has revealed how an internal investigation was launched six months ago following a standard audit of procedures ‘in connection with a change in leadership’.
Around this time, a family requested a copy of a cheque made out to the school. It became apparent this had been deposited in a different bank account than the school’s account.
It was at this point, Meyers noted, that Kreuper became ‘very nervous and very anxious’ regarding the impending financial review, sparking suspicion.
An independent forensic auditor was called in to take a closer look at what was going on, and this was when the extent of the deceit was revealed.
Nuns embezzle 'substantial' amount of funds from church school, monsignor says pic.twitter.com/3Nsg3w859d
— Kayla Bolderstone (@aayxjziwiuf) December 10, 2018
The embezzlement had been going on for at least a decade, with the figure given representing only what auditors were able to trace through six years’ worth of bank records. This figure may not include other cash transactions.
Only Kreuper and Chang knew about the ‘long forgotten’ church bank account which had been originally opened in 1997. Bank records dating back before 2012 reportedly no longer exist.
According to the Press Telegram, nobody had been suspicious as both the school and the parish had always been in the black.
The systems that were set up were dividing people, so nobody knew what was happening.
This might be my favorite story of all time. Someone needs to make this into a movie. Two Nun's On The Run.
— Chico Negro (@derick197804) December 10, 2018
They had bad spending "habits"!
— George Schwab (@CpkGeo) December 10, 2018
Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang have reportedly now been moved from the ministry and have been placed in separate convents.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.