A nun addicted to gambling has escaped being jailed after a court heard she stole more than $1 million (Rs 5 crore) to spend on slot machines.
Sister Marie Thornton stole the cash from a Catholic college where she worked as a financial officer.
The 65-year-old would spend thousands on slot machines in casinos in Jersey's Atlantic City. She often lost up to $5,000 (Rs 2.5 lakh) during a single visit to casinos with money stolen from Iona College over a 10-year period.
Thornton, who was known as Sister Susie, was spared jail when she pleaded guilty to one charge of embezzlement. A court heard that she submitted false invoices to cover her theft and also arranged for the college to pay her credit card bills racked up at the casinos.
At her sentencing in Manhattan federal court, Thornton said she was deeply sorry for her crime and for the embarrassment she caused her religious order, family and friends.
"Somehow the words 'I'm sorry' fall short," she told US District Judge Kimba Wood. "They don't convey the gut-wrenching sorrow I feel all day, every day." She said she was particularly pained to have harmed "the institution I loved... and gave my all to."
Thornton was fired as vice president of finance in 2009 when school officials learned of the embezzlement. The probe was launched after the school revealed the missing money in its tax filings last year.