A Los Angeles jury Monday found former Beverly Hills Unified School District superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard, 54, guilty of improperly using public money, but it acquitted him of a third felony charge.
In a split verdict following two days of deliberations, an L.A. Superior Court jury found Hubbard guilty of authorizing payment to the school district’s former facilities director, Karen Anne Christiansen, without clearance from the Beverly Hills school board. Prosecutors said Hubbard made two $10,000 payments plus a $500 monthly car allowance to that employee. Christiansen's contract specified a $150 monthly car allowance
Hubbard was entrusted with money that "was supposed to go toward educating children," Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman said after the verdict. "That trust was abused."
For the last five years, Hubbard has been superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. In a statement, officials in that district said they’d refrained from “acting precipitously” after the charges against Hubbard surfaced. None of those criminal charges had to do with alleged activity in the Newport-Mesa district.
The president of the Newport-Mesa school board called for an immediate closed session to discuss Hubbard’s future in light of his conviction.
Last year in a separate trial a jury convicted the facilities director on conflict of interest charges; she’s free on $400,000 bail pending her appeal.
Huntsman described Hubbard and Christiansen as having a "special relationship." Hubbard had "at least flirtatious" exchanges in emails with her, the prosecutor said.
The jury in Hubbard’s trial acquitted him of felony charges of illegally paying another employee. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 23; he faces five years in state prison.
Hubbard’s lawyer Salvatore P. Ciulla said he plans to appeal.
"There was a breakdown in communication between the defendant and the school board," Ciulla said. "I don't think there was criminal intent."