Club president allegedly steals $10,000

Illustration by Monica Fitch
Illustration by Monica Fitch

The Finance Club experienced a massive financial loss when its Stifel Nicolaus investment account of almost $10,000 was closed by its president, John Saunders.

Originally established by a Chico State faculty member in the 1990s, the investment account was meant to give students real-life experience in making stock transactions and analyzing them.

But financial discrepancies hadn’t occurred until the election of a new club president last year.

Saunders, a 44-year-old business administration major, won the presidency in the spring of 2014.

During the elections, he provided cake for attendees and ran on a platform of “More food, more fun and more party-like type stuff,” Saunders said.

The Finance Club elections also served as an extra credit opportunity for students, resulting in a much larger turnout than usual.

Saunders served as a messenger for information between the adviser, Chico State faculty member Neal Bordenave, and the club.

“We knew he had closed the account,” said Matt Morgan, former vice president of the club. “But we were under the impression that Neal told him to — Neal didn’t. He (Saunders) was misinforming us.”

Saunders closed the club’s investment account, valued at $9882.64, and opened a new account with Bank of America to deposit the money.

In a statement to University Police, Bordenave reports: “At no time did I have any knowledge that Saunders had opened a Bank of America account and was stealing club funds.”

The Finance Club typically operates on a budget ranging from $750 to $1200 per semester, Bordenave said.

After collecting the investment account, club expenditures increased to almost $9000, which resulted in spending the entirety of the money, Saunders said. The club meeting’s weekly food menu escalated from $5 Little Caesar’s pizzas to Round Table and a la carte lasagnas from Italian Cottage.

“It was really bad when he started,” Morgan said. “He’d say he wanted to do something, spend money on it and then not follow up to it. Him having access to the account — he had no self-control over spending it.”

In the fall 2014 presidency transition meeting, Saunders was approached by club officials and when questioned about club funds and financial accounts, he ran out of the room, Morgan said.

The case is currently an open investigation with the University Police and is pending for review from the Butte County District Attorney’s office.

“The (former) club president should be criminally prosecuted,” Bordenave said. “It would be a travesty to see Saunders shake Dr. Zingg’s hand on graduation day.”

Jenice Tupolo can be reached at [email protected] or @JayTupolo on Twitter.