And it nearly landed her in jail. Details:
Sister Marie Thornton gambled her life away playing the one-armed bandits in Atlantic City, losing nearly $1 million she pilfered from the coffers of upstate Iona College, where she worked as a trusted financial officer.
Sister Susie, as she is known, was spared three years in federal prison by a compassionate Judge Kimba Wood in Manhattan Tuesday, after pleading guilty to one count of embezzlement.
But the 65-year-old nun has been sentenced to a lifetime of shame, shunned by Sisters of St. Joseph, the order she has served for 48 years. As an act of contrition, the lying nun spends her days and nights in solitary confinement in a small dorm-like room inside a Philadelphia convent.
She does not take her meals with the sisters, nor do her superiors allow her to work inside the Mother house doing small clerical jobs or even weeding the garden, according to court records and a source familiar with the case.
She is not allowed to leave the nunnery to visit relatives or friends or be seen in public at all. Her only escapes are trips to her therapist and group counseling.
“She can’t even go to the store and get milk,” the source said. “My belief is she will never be allowed to have contact with people again.”
The high-rolling sister holds a doctorate in education, served as an elementary-school principal and later as an assistant school superintendent for the Archdiocese of Newark, but there seems little chance the order will allow her to teach again, the source said.
For 10 years, until she was caught in 2009 for stealing $850,000 from Iona, Sister Susie would drive to the Jersey Shore on weekends, usually with an unsuspecting relative or friend, and spend the day there.
Although she didn’t have a favorite casino, her M.O. was the same: using the college corporate credit card for chips.
One weekend she blew $10,000 on the slots. Usually it was $2,000 to $5,000 a visit, the source said.
“She covered up the thousands she would lose by systematically submitting false vendor invoices for reimbursement to Iona College and submitting credit-card bills for personal expenses to be paid by Iona College,” according to US Attorney Preet Bharara.