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Nun accused of stealing thousands of dollars from two churches pleads not guilty

Posted at: 11/05/2012 10:55 PM
Updated at: 11/06/2012 7:17 AM
By: Lynette Adams

The nun accused of stealing thousands of dollars from two Orleans County churches appeared in court Monday night.

Sister Mary Anne Rapp is charged with grand larceny. Her own attorney and others who know Sister Mary Ann say this is sad. She's a woman who's been considered a pillar in the community for more than two decades, now possibly facing prison.

Her attorney says she had a gambling problem. She's accused of financing her trips to the casino, taking money from the two churches where she was a spiritual leader.

Jack Gillman said, This is kind of a shock to see something like this happen, but of course we don't know all the facts either.”

People who know Sister Mary Anne Rapp say they never would have expected something like this. People like Jack Gillman, a member of St. Mark's and St. Mary's Catholic Church in Kendall has known her for most of the 20 years he has lived in the area. He thinks the world of Sister Mary Ann.

Gillman said, “She's always been a great person and if I've ever had a problem, I've been able to call her. talk things out on my personal behalf and I've never seen her falter or have a problem.”

Sister Mary Anne is Mary Anne Rapp, a nun with the Sisters of St. Francis. She has been assigned to work at St. Mark's and its sister church, St. Mary's Catholic Church in Holley for 25 years. On Monday night, Rapp pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of second degree grand larceny.

Orleans County District Attorney Joseph Cardone said, “The allegations are that over the past several years she's been embezzling from the parishes out here and the amount is $128,000.”

A routine audit by the diocese, a year ago, led to this charge. Orleans County District Attorney Joseph Cardone says if Rapp is found guilty, she's facing prison time and restitution. Rapp's attorney says he is hoping to make a deal that could keep his 67-year-old client from going to prison.

James Harrington, defense attorney, said, “Unfortunately its a situation that's applying to a lot of people, people who would never commit crimes, go to casino and other gambling places, start gambling. They get into trouble and things spiral and that's what happens.”

But regardless of the outcome of the case, some members of Rapp's parish say they won't turn their backs on her.

Craig Murphy said, “I feel sad, but in my heart we all make mistakes. my faith teaches me we love the sinner, but regret what happened, but we still support her and pray for her and support.”

Rapp is only accused of these charges. Her case now goes to county court. She was released Monday night. However, if she's found guilty, she's facing a maximum of 15 years behind bars.