Maureen O’Connor lost more than $1 billion during an 8-year period.
O’Connor, 66, appeared in federal court and pleaded not guilty to a money laundering charge as part of a deferred prosecution. Under the arrangement with federal prosecutors, she has two years to repay the $2 million taken from the R.P. Foundation, a nonprofit set up by her late husband, Robert O. Peterson.
Peterson was the co-founder of the Jack-In-The-Box restaurant chain and later Southern California First National Bank Corp., which eventually became part of the Union Bank empire.
Prosecutors said O’Connor, who is in poor physical health, had $1 billion in gambling winnings between 2000 and 2008, but she posted losses during the same period that were greater than that amount. They described her as “destitute.”