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Ex-Beverly Hills schools chief case closing

January 20, 2012 | 11:49 am

Beverly hills

The former schools superintendent in Beverly Hills misappropriated money intended to go to students when he illegally gave funds to two female subordinates, a prosecutor said during closing arguments this week in a case that is now in the hands of a Los Angeles Superior Court jury.

"We're talking about a person who voluntarily chose to take a very high-paying job that entrusted him with public money," Deputy Dist. Atty. Max Huntsman said of Jeffrey Hubbard, who is now the superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District in Orange County.

Hubbard is accused of illegally giving a subordinate a $20,000 stipend and upping her monthly car allowance to $500, as well as giving another former Beverly Hills administrator an illegal pay raise that over time added up to about $20,000.

But Hubbard's defense attorney, Sal Ciulla, told jurors Thursday that his client's recommendations for stipends, salary increases and an increased car allowance were permissible and legal.

Ciulla told jurors that emails filled with sexual innuendo between one of the subordinates, former facilities director Karen Anne Christiansen, 53, and Hubbard, 54, weren't his motivation for giving her more money.

Ciulla read from a series of emails between Hubbard and Christiansen from 2008 saying that many people in the Beverly Hills and Newport-Mesa school districts believed the two were having an affair.

"Did we have fun? I must have missed it …," Christiansen wrote in one.

"I told you, they think the same thing down here," Hubbard replied.

Ciulla pointed to the exchange as evidence that the two's relationship never became physical.

Huntsman said their exchanges didn't need to be physical for Hubbard to be motivated to make illegal pay increases.

"It doesn't take an actual sexual relationship for somebody to set aside their responsibilities," Huntsman said.

Hubbard allegedly gave Christiansen a $20,000 stipend and increased her car allowance, and allegedly gave former Beverly Hills administrator Nora Roque an illegal pay raise.

Christiansen was found guilty in November of four felony conflict-of-interest charges related to her actions while working for the Beverly Hills school district and sentenced to four years and four months in prison.

Roque, who now works as director of classified personnel at Newport-Mesa Unified, was not accused of wrongdoing.

If convicted, Hubbard faces up to six years in prison. Jurors resumed deliberations in the case Friday.


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Photo: Former Beverly Hills superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard. Credit: Scott Smeltzer / Daily Pilot