Elderly nun faces 40 years for stealing to support gambling

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An elderly California nun will plead guilty to stealing from the Catholic school where she worked for decades in order to support her gambling, according to US prosecutors.

Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, allegedly stole more than $835,000 (£590,000) while working as the principal of a school in suburban Los Angeles.

She is now facing 40 years in jail.

A plea agreement released on Tuesday says that she will admit to diverting funds to pay off large gambling debts.

Sister Kreuper, who had taken a vow of poverty, ran the St James Catholic School in Torrance, California, for 28 years. Officials say she began stealing in the 10 years leading up to her retirement in 2018.

"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," the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said in a statement, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Her lawyer told the newspaper that she was "very remorseful" and that mental illness had clouded her judgement.

As the school's principal, Sister Kreuper "controlled accounts 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 US attorney's office said in a statement announcing the plea deal.

She is due to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering later on Wednesday.

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