She Beat Him at Poker, but the Story Got Much Darker

'GQ' goes inside the story of two nuns who allegedly stole from a California school
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2019 4:17 PM CDT
Updated Jun 9, 2019 10:36 AM CDT
The Theft Made Headlines. Then the Nuns Vanished
"Did they play the slots? Maybe. Blackjack, poker, craps? Possibly. Did they squeeze Vegas into weekends or wait for school breaks? Yes, unless they didn't. If no news, send rumors," writes Flynn.   (Getty Images)

The news made national headlines: Two nuns who worked at St. James Catholic School in Torrance, California, were accused of stealing at least $500,000 from the school and blowing at least some of it in Las Vegas. In a lengthy piece for GQ, Sean Flynn picks up the story—filling in some blanks, but exposing frustrating holes that seem bound to go unfilled. He speaks with Jack Alexander, whose three kids attend the school. He flashes back to a day in early 2011, when he was playing Texas Hold 'Em at a school poker fundraiser. It was ultimately down to just him and the principal, Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper. Flynn details their final hand, which Alexander was confident he'd win. He didn't. Sister Mary Margaret went all in without blinking before revealing a full house. "Man," thought Alexander, "this lady is one hell of a poker player."

But it wasn't really a shock that she won. "There were little hints, asides and inflections," that suggested she was a gambler, not to mention the trips to Vegas with Sister Lana Chang that were rumored to have been paid for by Sister Lana's rich uncle. That rumor gave way in November, when the church announced that a review of the books conducted in advance of Sister Mary Margaret's retirement showed the two had allegedly taken at least $500,000—as parents were continually told the school was hurting for money, so much so it couldn't pay for an awning to shade the outdoor area where the kids ate lunch. But Flynn goes on to explain why the scope of what was taken, and what was done with it, remains entirely unknown. "The two sisters have said nothing publicly… Church officials won't say where either nun is even physically located; for all practical purposes, they've vanished." Read his full story here. (Or read more early coverage here.)

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