A retired nun and principal of a Catholic elementary school in California admitted to stealing more than $835,000 from the school to fund her gambling trips.
Mary aged 79 was charged last week with financial fraud and money laundering, the U.S. Central District Attorney's Office said in a statement and now faces 40 years in prison, the highest sentence the state can impose.
She was the principal of St. Paul's Catholic School in Torrance, California for 28 years until 2018, when she retired.
Mary allegedly started stealing money from the accounts she was in charge of at school. The statement said she was in charge of handling money received from charitable donations as well as tuition fees. She was also responsible for keeping financial accounts with the school credit union, savings accounts and the accounts used to pay the living expenses of the other nuns at the school.
Prosecutors say that nun has been convincing school officials all along that she took good care of the school’s finances. They also say she instructed school staff on a regular basis to alter or destroy all financial records to cover up her tracks. This allowed her to maintain her access and control over finances and accounts.
A joint investigation by the Torrance Police Department, the FBI and the IRS found that the total losses for St. James amounted to $835,339 due to her intrigues.
Verdict is expected on July 1.