A nun in Western New York was charged Monday with stealing more than $100,000 from two parishes. The nun, Sister Mary Ann Rapp, stole the money to satisfy her gambling addiction, prosecutors said.
Rapp will be charged with grand larceny after allegedly stealing from donations and parishioners during her time at St. Mary Catholic Church in Holley, N.Y., and at its sister church St. Mark's, both in Orleans County.
“This is a situation that was brought to our attention by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and has been under investigation for months by the [Orleans County] Sheriff’s Office,” Orleans County District Attorney Joseph V. Cardone told the Buffalo News. “It’s not a situation where the sister has been living an extravagant life. I think there are indications that she has a gambling problem.”
Rapp was placed on leave after a new pastor came to St. Mark's and requested an audit.
“The audit turned up some irregularities, which we then reported to the Orleans County DA, so his staff could determine whether criminal charges were warranted,” said Terrence M. Connors, an attorney for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
The Associated Press reported that Rapp is accused of stealing $128,000 and is currently in treatment for gambling addiction. There are multiple casinos in the Southern Tier of New York State, where the churches are located. Her lawyer, James Harrington, said she would plead not guilty.
This news comes after several arrests were made in the Buffalo area regarding church thefts. Among them was Maureen Durrell, a former office manager at St. Christopher’s Church in Tonawanda, who was convicted of stealing $488,000 from parishioners and spending it on lush family vacations and excessive home improvements.
WIVB in Buffalo reported in 2010 that the region had seen an unexplainable spike in church thefts, a trend that seems to have continued. If found guilty, most perpetrators slowly repay the funds or sign up for welfare in an attempt to avoid creditors.