Holly roller! 68-year-old NUN with a gambling addiction admits stealing $130,000 from two churches
PUBLISHED: 22:41 GMT, 9 April 2013 | UPDATED: 22:46 GMT, 9 April 2013
For Sister Mary Anne Rapp, it would take more than a ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘Our Father’ to make up for all her trespasses.
The 68-year-old Roman Catholic nun with a gambling addiction pleaded guilty Monday to grand larceny for stealing nearly $130,000 from two rural western New York parishes.
Rapp admits that from March 2006 to April 2011, she stole more than $129,000 from St. Mary’s Church in Holley and St. Mark’s Church in Kendall, where she had been overseeing donations.
The elderly nun faces up to six months in jail when she’s sentenced July 1. She’ll also be required to pay ‘reasonable restitution’ that would be worked out at a later date.
Rapp was arrested in November after discrepancies were found during a months-long internal audit at the churches where she served, The Daily News Online reported.
The audit was ordered by Father Mark Noonan when he took over as pastor of the two houses of worship in 2010.
Investigators said Rapp, who has been a nun for 50 years, told them she stole the money to feed a gambling addiction and spent the money at western New York casinos.
There are nearly 20 gaming businesses in upstate New York, half of them located on Native American reservations.
The sister was placed on leave from her order in 2011 and agreed to seek treatment for her addiction.
A statement released in November by Rapp’s colleague said she spent almost ten months at a rehab center to address her gambling problem, NBC affiliate WGRZ reported.
The 68-year-old was initially charged with second-degree grand larceny that could have landed her behind bars for up to 15 years, but was later offered a plea deal since she did not have a criminal history.
‘She’s been a nun for a very long time, been a very good person, never in any trouble before,’ Rapp’s attorney, James Harrington, said. ‘She did great work wherever she was assigned.’
Orleans County District Attorney Joseph Cardone said it was the first time in his career spanning more than two decades that he has prosecuted a nun.
‘It’s sad when anybody has to be prosecuted but particularly a nun,’ Cardona told the station. ‘As you know, people place a lot of faith in her and turn to her for their own problems at times so it just is unfortunate and it shows that anybody can be involved in some type of criminal behavior.’
Inside job: Rapp stole nearly $130,000 from from St. Mary’s Church in Holley, left, and St. Mark’s Church in Kendall, right, where she had been overseeing donations.
Buffalo Diocese spokesman Kevin Keenan told WGRZ that the church’s insurance policy covers thefts.
Rapp’s future as a nun will be determine by her order, the Sisters of St Francis of Penance and Christian Charity.
In a statement to the station, Sister Edith Wyss, provincial minister of the 138-member monastic order, said that the nuns ‘continue to pray for Sister Mary Anne and help her deal with her addiction.’