A retired nun has been found guilty of embezzling more than $800,000 to spend gambling.
Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper admitted the crime.
According to federal prosecutors, Kreuper embezzled the money from a Catholic school in California over 10 years. The 79-year-old nun was a formal principal at the St. James Catholic School in Torrance.
Authorities said Kreuper siphoned money from tuition fees and donations which she said she used to subsidize her casino gambling expenses and credit card payments.
Kreuper said in her plea agreement she diverted money from the school's tuition and donation accounts to a savings account meant to fund the living expenses of nuns. She admitted to taking some of that money and using it for herself.
To hide the theft, Kreuper admitted to falsifying monthly and annual reports to the school administration.
[Kreuper "lulled St. James School and the administration into believing that the school's finances were being properly accounted for and its financial assets properly safeguarded, which, in turn, allowed defendant Kreuper to maintain her access and control of the school's finances and accounts and, thus, continue operating the fraudulent scheme," federal prosecutors said.
Kreuper's lawyers said their client was "very remorseful" of her actions and she was "sorry for any harm she had caused." Her lawyers said Kreuper immediately admitted to the crime once she was confronted. Kreuper also accepted full responsibility for her actions and was willing to cooperate with authorities and the archdiocese.
"The community of faith at St. James was shocked and saddened by these actions," the archdiocese of Los Angeles said in a statement.
Kreuper's embezzlement was uncovered by school officials during an audit after she retired as the principal. Prosecutors said Kreuper had instructed some employees to destroy some financial records before her departure from the school.
Kreuper is scheduled to appear for sentencing July 1. She might face up to 40 years in federal prison.