A 65-year-old nun has pled guilty to federal criminal charges involving theft of almost $1 million she took from Iona College, where she was employed in the financial office. She apparently used the money to pay for her gambling losses in Atlantic City, New Jersey casinos, feeding much of the money into slot machines.

The embezzlement allegedly continued for ten years until it was discovered in 2009. She frequently drove to the Jersey Shore to visit casinos on weekends, often traveling with friends or relatives unaware of her ongoing thefts. Authorities claimed that she charged gambling chips at casinos to her college’s corporate credit cards, and lost from $2,000 to $5,000 a day in slot machines, with her losses totaling $10,000 on one weekend.

A federal prosecutor asserted that she attempted to cover up her embezzlement by submitting phony invoices for purported vendor deliveries to her employer.

While she could have been sentenced to as much as three years in federal prison for embezzlement, no prison sentence was imposed. Instead, the nun, who has been in her order for 48 years, is attempting to atone for her indiscretion by living in a tiny room in a convent in a condition similar to solitary confinement, barred from eating with her fellow nuns and largely shunned by them. She is also prohibited from working at the convent.

She is only permitted to leave the nunnery for group counseling or individual therapy sessions, and is not able to go visit friends or relatives.

The nun had previously worked as a principal at an elementary school and as the assistant school superintendent for Catholic schools in Newark, New Jersey. She holds a Ph.D. in education.

Source: New York Post, “Twisted Sister in Nun Jail,” Cynthia Fagan, Nov. 13,