US archdiocese to pursue embezzling Las Vegas sisters

US archdiocese to pursue embezzling Las Vegas sisters

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has performed a U-turn and will now file a complaint against religious sisters who have been accused of embezzling from a Catholic school at which they had worked for more than a decade.

Sr Mary Margaret Kreuper CSJ and Sr Lana Chang CSJ, who both retired this year from St James Catholic School in Torrance, are alleged to have misappropriated nearly $500,000 (€439,000) from the school.

They are suspected of using the money for gambling, trips, and other personal expenses.

While the archdiocese initially said that it would not press charges in the case, an archdiocesan spokesman said this week that the archdiocese will become a “complaining party” in the case.

Kim Westerman, a spokesperson for the Sisters of St Joseph of Carondelet, said that canonical restrictions have been imposed on the sisters, and a formal canonical process “will be determined when the criminal aspect of the case is completed”.

Westerman said the sisters’ alleged embezzlement was not known before their retirements from the school was announced, and that the congregation has no record of either sister being accused of financial misconduct in the past.


A November 28 letter from St James Parish pastor Msgr Michael Meyers announced that after an internal investigation discovered the embezzlement, the sisters’ congregation “has agreed to arrange for full restitution for the benefit of the School of the funds that are found to have been misappropriated and is imposing appropriate penalties and sanctions on each of the sisters in accordance with the policies of the order.”

In his letter, Meyers wrote that despite the theft “no student or programme at St James has suffered any loss of educational resources, opportunities, or innovations. In sum, the education of your children has not and will not be affected by these events”.

He added that the sisters felt “deep remorse” for their actions and asked for forgiveness.

Meyers told parents last week that the sisters’ theft went undetected because they took money destined for a reserve fund, and did not immediately attract the attention of auditors and other officials.

Some parents at the school alleged that the sisters often took gambling trips to Las Vegas. Krueper has a PO Box and a prior address in Las Vegas according to reports.

The sisters are members of the Los Angeles Province of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cardondelet.

St James School’s 2016 enrollment was 325 students, according to an archdiocesan directory.