New Ro Institution Tight-Lipped, Imposes Media Blackout

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBS 2) — There was embezzlement and embarrassment at a local Catholic college on Wednesday.

The school is reeling from a major theft, apparently at the hands of well-known nun was the school’s vice president of finance, CBS 2’s Lou Young reports.

It was circle the wagons time at Iona in New Rochelle on Wednesday, the private Catholic institution that recently disclosed a large theft by a former top administrator.

Not just any administrator, mind you, but a nun.

The story has the campus on a type of reporter lockout.

They don’t want to talk about Sister Marie Thornton, a.k.a. “Sister Susie” who was fired last year, or why the college didn’t report the theft immediately, or file a criminal complaint. The theft was revealed in a supplemental report to the school’s 2008 tax forms filed this year with the IRS.

When the college’s president Brother James Liguori was informed of the theft, Thornton was fired and another employee alleged to have helped keep the theft under wraps was also fired, as stated in the filing.

In the filing, the school reported that the money came out of the school’s operating budget and through official credit card charges, and the numbers are especially shocking to parents of students footing sizable tuition bills. We’re not talking about petty theft here. This is major stuff. Try $800,000 over a decade.

Late Wednesday Liguori, also a close friend of Thornton, issued a statement saying, “The college complied with regulatory reporting requirements,” that “the college recovered a major amount of its loss” and that “we do not discuss specific details of personnel matters.”

It is unclear where Sister Thornton was Wednesday. Attempts to reach her were unsuccessful.

So the college recovered some of the $800,000 but won’t say how much or what they think the stolen money was used for.

A spokesman for the Westchester district attorney said the office has received no complaint about the theft and until it does there will be no criminal case.

Sister Thornton’s order — the Sisters of St. Joseph — issued a brief statement Wednesday saying they hope for a “just resolution” of the matter.

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