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Emails show Hubbard refused plea bargain

Using a public records request, Daily Pilot obtains emails Newport-Mesa superintendent sent concerning his trial for misappropriating funds, car allowance.

July 23, 2011|By Britney Barnes and Joseph Serna, britney.barnes@latimes.com
  • Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard arrives at the Airport Courthouse in December.
Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard arrives at the Airport Courthouse… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Facing two felony charges, Newport-Mesa Unified Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard told the school board earlier this year that he rebuffed an offer to discuss a plea bargain with prosecutors, according to emails obtained by the Daily Pilot.

"Yesterday, the D.A. started to make a plea bargain offer to my counsel but we immediately declined," Hubbard wrote to school board members on Jan. 21. "I'm not guilty — period."

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman said he does not recall discussing a plea bargain with Hubbard's attorney, but didn't discount that it happened.

"It doesn't mean anything about the strength of our case," he said. "If our case was weak, we'd dismiss it. It's common practice to discuss possible deals in criminal cases, so we probably talked about some possible agreement."

Hubbard, 54, stands accused of misappropriating funds while at his previous job as superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District. Prosecutors allege that he improperly OK'd $20,000 in payments to, and enriched the car allowance for, a former subordinate, Karen Anne Christiansen.

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Hubbard has pleaded not guilty. His trial is expected to begin in mid-August in Los Angeles.

Hubbard, who recently returned to work in Newport-Mesa after a paid leave of absence lasting more than five months, declined to be interviewed for this story. His attorney could not be reached for comment.

School district spokeswoman Laura Boss said Hubbard has been advised by his counsel not to discuss the case with the media.

"It's putting him in a difficult position," Boss said. "He would love nothing more than to have an open and honest discussion about it."

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Confident in his defense

Hubbard appears confident in his defense, according to emails from his school account he sent late last year and early this year to the school board and district administrators. Using the California Public Records Act, the Daily Pilot's attorneys acquired the emails from the school district, which initially declined to turn them over.

"I also have faith that the legal system will do it's (sic) job, and I will be completely exonerated of any wrong doing (sic)," Hubbard wrote Dec. 15. "I have pledged to fight until the truth is known."

In the emails, Hubbard argued that he never approved inappropriate payments to Christiansen and that prosecutors do not understand the law.

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