Two nuns have admitted to having stolen about $ 500,000 from a Catholic school in California where they used to bet on casinos in Las Vegas and pay for private trips, the school has revealed. One was responsible for the center and the other was an educator.
Sisters Mary Margaret Kreuper, former director, and Lana Chang, an ex-teacher, stole money from tuition, fees, and donations from St. James Catholic School in Torrance, a coastal suburb southwest of Los Angeles, and spent it in the Mecca. American game, as reported by the newspaper The Long Beach Press-Telegram. The center communicated what happened by letter to the parents at the end of November.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles explained that the misappropriation of funds was discovered during a routine audit and it is believed that the nuns were robbing their school for at least a decade. However, the half million dollars only represents what the auditors have been able to track in six years of bank records and does not include cash transactions, according to those responsible for the archdiocese, admitted the parents at a meeting held on Monday.
Although the police have been alerted that the Kreuper and Chang sisters have been “involved in the personal use of a substantial amount of school funds,” the archdiocese told the parents of the students that they do not plan to file a criminal complaint against the students. nuns, who for years served as moral educators for the students.
The two nuns, described as great friends, left school earlier this year where Kreuper was the director for 29 years and Chang taught another 20 expressed regret and promised to return the money. Although they will not do it, the congregation of the Sisters of San Jose de Carondelet, to which they belong, who has committed to fully restitute the funds and to punish the sisters harshly.
Both have been set aside and sent to two different convents. “Our community is worried and saddened by this situation and we regret any damage to our long relationship with the school, which dates back to 1918,” the order said in a statement.
The then director Kreuper “was very nervous” before reviewing the finances of the school and asked the staff to modify the records. An internal auditor warned of these movements and realized that “something was not right”. Shortly after confirmed his suspicions.
The archdiocese hired an independent auditor to conduct a more thorough analysis, which found a “forgotten account” to which only the two sisters had access. The account was opened in 1997 and only bank records are available until 2012. “We know they traveled frequently, we know that they used to visit casinos and the truth is that they used the school account as their personal account,” he said in the same meeting with parents Marge Graf, the school’s lawyer.
The new director, Noreen Maricich, has changed the payment system to avoid that another fraud may occur in the future. However, according to The Long Beach Press-Telegram, many parents were outraged by the decision not to press charges and commented that if the nuns were laid, they would be in jail. A group of them even plans to sue, but with an agreement between the order, the archdiocese and the school, it seems unlikely that they will be prosecuted.
Some parents commented that it was known that the nuns traveled often and bet in casinos, but they assured that a rich uncle paid for these caprices. “The rich uncle was us, the parents of St. James,” laments another parent.