.

Guilty: Newport Schools Chief Misappropriated Funds, Jury Says

District Superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard authorized illegal payments at his previous job. Newport-Mesa school board will confer on the situation, which could lead to his dismissal.

Newport-Mesa Unified Superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard was convicted Monday of misappropriating public funds while running another school district.

Hubbard, 54, illegally diverted funds to a female employee -- -- while serving as superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District, jurors found. He was convicted of two felony counts but acquitted of a third charge involving another employee.

He faces a maximum five years in prison at his sentencing Feb. 23. The conviction also disqualifies Hubbard from working as a superintendent for any school district, prosecutors said.

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.''

But defense lawyer Salvatore P. Ciulla said an appeal was likely: "There was a breakdown in communication between the defendant and the school board. I don't think there was criminal intent.''

After the verdict, Newport-Mesa school board President Dave Brooks called for an immediate closed-session meeting to "review the Board’s legal options regarding the superintendent’s employment contract and next steps in light of the outcome in the case."

Prosecutors said Hubbard illegally authorized a $20,000 stipend and $500 monthly car allowance to Karen Anne Christiansen, a former facilities director for Beverly Hills Unified. 

Hubbard and Christiansen had a "special relationship'' involving "at least flirtatious'' email exchanges at work, Huntsman said.

of four counts of conflict of interest for negotiating contracts between the Beverly Hills school district and a firm her company had a consulting agreement with -- and for backing a school bond measure that benefited her firm.

She was sentenced earlier this month to four years and four months in state prison, but allowed to remain free on $400,000 bail while her appeal is pending.

On Monday, Hubbard was acquitted of a charge that he illegally authorized a raise for another employee, Nora Roque, who was then working as a human resources coordinator and later followed Hubbard to Newport-Mesa.

Although the Newport-Mesa teachers' union gave Hubbard a no-confidence vote last fall, the local school board had previously stayed mum "to avoid acting precipitously in regard to charges that had no connection with Newport-Mesa, and to observe Dr. Hubbard’s legal right to be judged by a jury of his peers," the district said in a press statement issued Monday.

None of the allegations involved Hubbard's tenure at Newport-Mesa Unified, where he has been employed since 2006.

The closed session school board meeting will be scheduled as soon as possible and further announcements will be forthcoming, Newport-Mesa officials said.

-- City News Service contributed to this story.

ace January 24, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Government is OUT OF CONTROL

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »