Mary Margaret Kreuperhad had been the principal of the St. James Catholic Primary School for 28 years before being caught using students’ tuition money to fund trips to Las Vegas Casinos.
According to court documents, the thefts began in 2010 and ended upon Ms Kreuper’s retirement in 2018.
“I have sinned, I’ve broken the law and I have no excuses,” Kreuper told U.S. District Court Judge Otis D. Wright on Monday via teleconference.
“My actions were in violation of my vows, my commandments, the law and, above all, the sacred trust that so many had placed in me. I was wrong and I’m profoundly sorry for the pain and suffering I’ve caused so many people.”
After pleading guilty to one count of money laundering and wire fraud, Mary Margaret Kreuper received a one-year sentence and was ordered to pay back the astronomical sum of money as restitution.
However, letters from several former students of the St. James Catholic Primary School asked members of the jury to put Ms Kreuper behind bars for as long as possible.
One former student told the judge that Ms Kreuper had been a ‘fear monger’ in her role as the school’s principal and instilled ‘terror’ in the students throughout her tenure.
Defence attorney Mark Byrne told the court that many of the families who knew that Ms Kreuper had taken the money, had now found it in their hearts to forgive her.
“She can’t leave the premises unless she’s given permission and she has to tell them where she’s going and she has to be accompanied by somebody,” the defence attorney told The New York Post.
“Basically, for the last three-and-a-half years, she’s been driving her fellow sisters to doctor’s appointments and things like that. So she’s basically under house arrest, which she accepts.”
A statement from Archdiocese of Los Angeles officials states that “they informed authorities of the matter in 2018 when financial reviews during a change in leadership showed a substantial amount of school funds had been misappropriated for personal use by Sister Mary Margaret during her tenure as school principal”.
Ms Kreuper was released from custody after reaching an agreement with the court, but she will be turning herself in to prison on June 7 to begin her one-year sentence.