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Student Claims Long Beach City College District Muscled in on Millions in Student Funds

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Long Beach City College unlawfully seized and converted million of dollars of Associated Student Body funds under the bogus pretext that the student government had embezzled, a former ASB officer claims in a class action.

Named plaintiff Jason Troia estimates that the Associated Student Body's revenue was $6 million in 2011 alone. He sued Long Beach City College and Long Beach City College Auxiliary Inc., in Superior Court.

Serving 25,000 students, the student government earns money through a campus book store, food courts and cafeterias, ticket sales and credit card services, the 19-page lawsuit states.

Troia, a former trustee of the student government, says the ASB donated a portion of its revenue for the school's phone registration system, a push for a $440 million bond measure to qualify the school for state matching funds, and for the school's planetarium.

But in 2009, the defendant school district, "without a shred of evidence," falsely accused the student government's cabinet members of embezzling funds from the Associated Body Inc., the company that controlled the body's revenues and assets, Troia says.

The school used those trumped-up allegations to take control of the student government, according to the complaint.

"It threatened the ASB cabinet student members with, among others, lower grades, delayed graduation and more difficult transfer of credits to a four-year university," the complaint states. "Under such duress, coercion and undue influence, LBCCD [Long Beach City College District] forced the then ASB Cabinet to dissolve the ASB corporation and relinquish all operations and financial controls to LBCCD."

Troia says the district forced the student government to sign documents ceding control of its operations to the school. The Memorandum of Understanding stripped the body of its independence and gave the school oversight of its finances, Troia says.

He claims that the district replaced Associated Body Inc. with defendant LBCC Auxiliary - a "pure fiction, and in reality a shadow" of the college district.

The district "single-handedly selected and controlled all of LBCC Auxiliary's employees despite the fact that they were paid by ASB funds: In short, LBCCD fully absorbed, acquired and took control of ASB," the complaint states.

Troia claims the college district used the student body's money to buy real estate and secure commercial loans to pay off the school's bad investments.

Using the money that way violated the Memorandum of Understanding, Troia claims.

Alleging breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and seeking a constructive trust, Troia seeks restitution, punitive damages, costs and an accounting.

Troia is represented by Sang Park with Carlin & Buchsbaum of Long Beach.

Long Beach City College did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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