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Former Nun Mary Margaret Kreuper Pleads Guilty To Embezzling Catholic School Funds

TORRANCE (CBSLA) — A retired nun accused of gambling with the funds of a Torrance Catholic school where she worked as the principal faces federal prison time after pleading guilty Thursday.

"When you send your kids to school knowing that nuns are teaching there, you feel your child is safe," Krunal Sheth, who was shooting hoops with his 8-year-old son at the park adjacent to St. James Catholic School, said.

Sheth doesn't send his son to the school, but said that he is familiar with the controversy regarding Sister Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Change, both accused of stealing school funds.

Kreuper faced a judge Thursday and pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges.

The nun served as the principal at St. James Catholic School in Torrance for 28 years, and allegedly used more than $830,000 of the school's funds to support a gambling habit and pay for other personal expenses.

Kreuper became a nun at age 18 and dedicated the next 59 years of her life to helping others.

Attorneys for the former nun released a statement stating that Kreuper is remorseful and has accepted full responsibility for what happened.

Prosecutors, however, argue that the sister directed staff to destroy financial records ahead of a school audit.

For their part, church officials said that later in life, Kreuper suffered from mental illness that clouded her judgement. School staff who didn't want to speak on camera said they're saddened by the incident.

The Archdiocese released the following statement:

"The community of faith at St. James was shocked and saddened by these actions and the parish, school and the Archdiocese reported the matter and fully cooperated with authorities in the criminal investigation...we continue to offer our prayers for all impacted by this matter."

Kreuper faces up to 40 years in federal prison when she is sentenced on Feb. 7, 2022.

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