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District paid $10,000 for lawyer to watch superintendent's trial

March 14, 2012 |  1:10 pm

School officials in Newport Beach paid about $10,000 to have a legal representative attend the criminal trial of their former superintendent and report back on the proceedings.

Jeffrey Hubbard was superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District when he was charged with misappropriating funds while working at his previous superintendent job at the Beverly Hills Unified School District. He was convicted in January on two felony counts of misappropriating school money and served a brief jail term.

The day after his conviction, he was fired from his job as schools chief by the Newport-Mesa School Board.

During the trial, the Newport-Mesa school district paid $115 an hour to have a legal representative watch the case unfold. District spokeswoman Laura Boss said the cost was reduced from the normal rate of $195 an hour that the law firm Parker & Covert LLP charges.

The district was charged for 89 hours, bringing the bill to $10,235. Money to pay the fee came from the district's legal fund, Boss said.

"NMUSD, as an organization, needed to be prepared in case anything arose at the trial that might directly impact NMUSD," Boss wrote in an email.

School board President Dave Brooks, who attended every day of the trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court, said the board initially chose to have a paralegal present, but was advised by attorneys to have the case monitored by a lawyer instead, particularly when district employees testified.

Toward the end of the trial, Hubbard testified on his own behalf, telling jurors he was directed by Beverly Hills school board members to make payments to a subordinate.

Prosecutors pointed to emails indicating that Hubbard had a "special relationship" with that subordinate. That might have provided a motive for Hubbard to illegally raise her car allowance and grant her bonuses equaling $20,000, prosecutors said.

The former superintendent was acquitted of a third felony charge that he illegally increased another subordinate's pay.

Hubbard has filed an appeal to his January convictions, and has publicly stated his innocence on a since-closed Twitter account and in an interview with the Daily Pilot.

-- Lauren Williams