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D.A. pursuing new charges against Newport-Mesa superintendent

Prosecutors decline to elaborate on evidence at hearing in L.A., but Hubbard's attorney vows to fight on.

September 30, 2011|By Lauren Williams

LOS ANGELES — Prosecutors are seeking additional criminal charges against Newport-Mesa Unified's schools chief.

Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard, 54, faces two felony counts of misappropriation of funds related to his previous job as superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office plans to take recently acquired evidence to a grand jury in hopes of securing additional charges and possibly joining them with the two felony charges the D.A.'s office already filed.

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"We learned of the details that give us a reason to file additional charges fairly late in the game," Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman said after Hubbard's pretrial hearing Friday.

Huntsman declined to specify what the possible charges would involve, saying only that they would be similar to the counts already filed.

Huntsman said the D.A.'s office received the evidence after Hubbard had already been charged with the first two felonies, and expediting the process with a grand jury allows his counsel to join the cases and save time.

Hubbard's attorney, Sal Ciulla, said in court that if additional charges were brought, he would fight them.

Hubbard has pleaded not guilty to the other two counts and has said that he would not accept a plea bargain.

The D.A.'s office was previously unable to present its additional evidence to a grand jury because of a scheduling conflict, but plans on making the case for more charges before Hubbard's trial begins, tentatively on Nov. 10, Huntsman said.

The other defendant in the case, Karen Anne Christiansen, whom Hubbard is accused of illegally making payments to, is expected to go to trial the same day.

Hubbard is accused of giving Christiansen an additional $500 for a car allowance and about $20,000 without the approval of the Beverly Hills school board. Hubbard served as that district's superintendent before joining Newport-Mesa in 2006.

If Hubbard does not go to trial in mid-November, the case will likely begin after the winter holidays. His trial is expected to last seven days or less.

Hubbard took a paid leave of absence that began in January from the district to prepare for the trial, but went back on the job in early July. Several members of the school board have stood by him, saying they believe he is innocent.

lauren.williams@latimes.com

Twitter: @lawilliams30

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