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N.Y. nun stole from parishes to support gambling habit, officials say

BUFFALO — A nun with a gambling addiction was accused of stealing $128,000 from two rural parishes where she worked.

Sister Mary Anne Rapp was treated for a gambling addiction and is in recovery, her order said Monday, but she still faces a criminal charge of grand larceny after the thefts from the St. Mary and St. Mark congregations. She was expected to plead not guilty in Kendall Town Court.

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‘‘She’s been a nun for a very long time, been a very good person, never in any trouble before,’’ said her attorney, James Harrington. ‘‘She did great work wherever she was assigned.’’

In 2010, the two linked parishes were assigned a new pastor who sought a routine audit, said Kevin Keenan, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The audit turned up ‘‘some irregularities’’ that were turned over to a county prosecutor, he said.

Rapp is accused of taking the money between 2006 and 2010, Keenan said. She was placed on leave from her position as pastoral associate in February 2011 and fired in April 2011, he said.

St. Mary’s in Holley and St. Mark’s in nearby Kendall serve a combined total of about 600 families. Keenan could not say how the alleged thefts had affected the day-to-day parish operations, but said it would be “a significant amount of money for any parish.’’

Orleans District Attorney Joseph Cardone declined to detail how the alleged theft occurred or comment on the motive. ‘‘We’re not at this point focused on what she did with the money — we’re focused on the money itself,’’ he said.

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