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Hubbard charges delayed

Superintendent must return to court Monday to face felony charges. His co-defendant was arrested due to flight risk.

December 27, 2010|By Tom Ragan, tom.ragan@latimes.com
  • Jeffrey Hubbard, left, the superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, and an unidentified acquaintance arrive at the Santa Monica court house.
Jeffrey Hubbard, left, the superintendent of the Newport-Mesa… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

LOS ANGELES — Newport-Mesa Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard's arraignment was postponed a week after 4 1/2 hours of court proceedings at three different courthouses Monday.

Hubbard and co-defendant Karen Anne Christiansen are to appear in a Beverly Hills court Monday to face felony charges of misusing funds when they worked together in the Beverly Hills School District.

The defendants began proceedings 9 a.m. in Beverly Hills, were sent to a Santa Monica courthouse and then to the Airport Courthouse as attorneys determined which judge should hear the case.

Hubbard left court freely in his charcoal-gray suit, but Christiansen wasn't as fortunate.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Christiansen and escorted her out of the Airport Courthouse with her hands behind her back. Her bail has been set at $2 million. Hubbard has two weeks to turn himself in to authorities for his arrest and booking, Los Angeles prosecutors said.

Defense attorneys asked that Christiansen, 52, be allowed to leave without arrest, saying she had two chances to flee and has been staying with a friend in Beverly Hills for two months. Judge Cynthia Rayvis was not persuaded.

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"Given that the defendant is staying in somebody's bedroom, the court does not have any assurances [that she'll return]," Rayvis said. "The court is going to have her remanded to custody."

Christiansen faces six felony conflict of interest charges. Los Angeles prosecutors say she made $2 million as the consultant for the Beverly Hills school district, while also earning $113,000 annually as its director of planning and facilities.

Hubbard, 53, is alleged to have given Christiansen an unauthorized stipend of $20,000 and a $400 increase in her car allowance while he was superintendent of Beverly Hills Unified School District, according to the criminal complaint. Christiansen was director of planning and facilities under Hubbard's term there.

Hubbard stands accused of writing her two checks for $10,000 on Feb. 6, 2006 and increasing Christiansen's car allowance to $500 a month on Sept. 25, 2005, prosecutors said.

Christiansen and the Beverly Hills school district made an agreement in which she would receive 2% of public bond money, which was approved by voters in 2008 under Measure E, said Max Huntsman, a deputy district attorney.

Christiansen has received $2 million from the $334 million raised, and has contended in civil litigation that she's entitled to $5 million more, Huntsman said.

The Beverly Hills Unified School District filed a counter claim stating that Christiansen should not be receiving any money because it belongs to the public.

"All of these vast sums of money went into her pocket, and not a dime went into his [Hubbard's] pocket," Huntsman said after Monday's court proceeding.

Both of Hubbard's alleged felonies are in direct violation of the California Constitution, said Juliet Schmidt, a deputy district attorney.

"A government entity can't change or alter a public employee's contract right in the middle of it," Schmidt said.

Judge Elden Fox will hear their case Monday.

The Board of Education said Monday that it wasn't sure when Hubbard would return to his duties in Newport-Mesa. He went on vacation the week of winter recess, when the case was publicized.

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