LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The top official in the Beverly Hills Unified School District was sentenced Thursday to 60 days in jail for misappropriating public funds by authorizing payments — including a $20,000 stipend — to an employee without the school board’s approval.
Jeffrey Hubbard, 55, was also ordered by Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus to pay $23,500 in restitution to the school district as well as a $6,000 court fine, and to complete 280 hours of community service and serve three years on probation.
“I do think this is an important case because the defendant violated a position of public trust,” Marcus said.
The judge said he was “floored” by a series of “salacious” emails that suggest that Hubbard had a “very, very special relationship” with Karen Anne Christiansen, who received the $20,000 stipend and a $500 monthly car allowance in what Marcus called a “sweetheart deal” that didn’t have “a chance in hell” of being approved.
Hubbard was convicted Jan. 23 of two counts of misappropriation of public funds involving the money given to Christiansen, but acquitted of a
third misappropriation count related to another employee.
The judge ordered Hubbard to be taken into custody immediately after imposing the sentence, while noting earlier that he would not be shocked if the former superintendent was quickly released from jail.
After being asked if he wanted to give something to his wife before he was taken into custody, Hubbard responded that he wanted to give her “lots of love.”
Hubbard had faced a maximum of five years behind bars, but Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman asked the judge to impose a county jail term
rather than state prison. In court papers, he cited the “amount of loss” and Hubbard’s lack of prior criminal record.
“I do believe what he did was grossly inappropriate,” the prosecutor told the judge.
Defense attorney Salvatore P. Ciulla maintained that his client had “no financial gain” as a result of the money that was given to Christiansen, urging the judge to consider the “gigantic” consequences his client has faced as a result of his conviction.
“It has ruined him financially,” said Hubbard’s attorney, who called his client “a good man.”
Hubbard was fired from his job as superintendent of the Newport Mesa Unified School District one day after he was convicted of illegally authorizing two payments of $10,000 each and a $500 monthly car allowance to Christiansen, a former Beverly Hills Unified facilities director.
Christiansen’s contract had specified a $150 monthly car allowance and provided for all contract changes to be made in writing.
Hubbard’s attorney said the defense intends to appeal.
“I don’t think the jury got it right,” Ciulla told reporters outside court.
Christiansen, who was tried separately last year, was convicted of four counts of conflict of interest for negotiating contracts between the school district and a firm with which her company had a consulting agreement, and for backing a school bond measure that benefited her firm.
She was sentenced Jan. 5 to four years and four months in state prison, but was allowed to remain free on $400,000 bail while her appeal is pending.
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