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Nun sentenced for embezzling money to feed gambling addiction

A Catholic nun and former official at Iona College who pleaded guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the school is a recovering gambling addict who is haunted by "childhood demons," her attorney said. The court sentenced the nun to repay part of the money, plus 2,000 hours of community service.

The defendant, a member of The Sisters of St. Joseph in Pennsylvania, has also been put under lockdown by the leadership of her order as punishment for her white collar crime. She has not left the grounds in 892 days, which the nun described as "isolation, pain, shame and humiliation that I can't even begin to describe." However, she added that she was stronger to have gone through it, and she was grateful for the punishment.

According to an article from Reuters, the nun worked as vice president of finance for Iona several years. She also struggled with a gambling addiction. From around 1999 until 2009, when she resigned, she used a credit card belonging to the college to take out cash advances, which she would use to gamble in Atlantic City. She would then fill out false invoices to cover up the advances. She also forged the college president's signature and filled out a second line of credit in the school's name. In all, the woman embezzled around $850,000.

Insurance covered $500,000 of the money, but at the sentencing hearing on Nov. 8 the court ordered the nun to repay the remaining $350,000.

At the hearing, her attorney said that his client suffers from a gambling addiction that developed as a reaction to "childhood demons." He said that gambling was the only way to numb her emotional suffering.

Source: Reuters, "Gambling nun blames 'childhood demons' for embezzlement," Aman Ali, Nov. 8, 2011

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