Nun to Serve Jail Time for Stealing to Support Gambling Habit
Nuns having, or rather, wearing habits is a commonplace occurrence. Nuns who steal to support a gambling habit are certainly a rarity – just about as rare as a flying nun.
Perhaps that’s why the story of a New York nun being sentenced to a 90-day jail term for stealing to fund her gambling addiction made headlines this week. 68-year-old Sister Mary Anne Rapp will also be required to pay $128,000 in restitution in addition to performing one hundred hours of community service as part of her punishment.
Nun stole from churches over five year period
Sister Rapp was found guilty of grand larceny for stealing from two separate Catholic parishes over a five year period dating from 2006 until 2011. Not only did the nun swipe money from the church collection baskets, she also deposited checks meant for the church into her own personal bank account.
While she likely will only serve 60 days of her 90-day sentence, the nun, who is experienced in prison ministry, expects that she can do good while making good. She plans to help other inmates with addiction counseling, said her attorney, James P. Harrington.
The Orleans County District Attorney agreed that Sister Rapp could use her jail time productively to assist others, but still felt that jail time was an appropriate sentence.
“She’s unquestionably done a lot of good things for a lot of people and causes for many years,” said Joseph V. Cardone. “But you can’t ignore the extent of the dishonesty.”
Attorney was hoping nun evade incarceration
Still, Harrington was hoping that Sister Rapp could avoid jail time, as she has already completed a course of treatment for her gambling addiction and as he said, understands the gravity of her offense and her dishonesty.
“I don’t think sending her to jail was necessary to do that. She is the type of person who’s punishing herself internally all the time. She stole money from her friends and from people who counted on her. She knows that.”
“I’d hoped that she would not be sentenced to any term of incarceration,” Harrington went on. “But she knew this might happen, and she was prepared for any sentence. She knows she can do some good when she’s in the Orleans County Jail.”
Orleans County is located in western New York, a region in which state legislators are looking to construct new casino properties, in part to compete with neighboring states such as Pennsylvania where new casinos are being built. New York, like many states in the nation, is hoping to increase revenue and tourism by introducing new resort-style casinos.
Sister has the support of fellow nuns
Despite her crimes, Sister Rapp has not lost the support of her community.
“We feel great empathy for the two church communities affected by her actions. Sister Mary Anne is a member of our community, and we will continue to help and support her,” said Sister Edith Wyss, who serves as the provincial minister for the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity.
Sister Rapp is expected to be released from jail in September.
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