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Witness: Hubbard directed payroll to give raise [Corrected]

N-MUSD schools chief did not follow protocols for giving raises when he worked in Beverly Hills, administrator says.

January 12, 2012|By Lauren Williams

LOS ANGELES — When he was schools chief in Beverly Hills, Jeffrey Hubbard directed the payroll department to grant bonuses and a pay raise to two employees, a district employee testified Thursday. It was a move by Hubbard, prosecutors asserted, that sought to bypass the required school board approval.


FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version incorrectly stated that Newport-Mesa Unified School District Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard is accused of giving Norma Roque an illegal bonus. He is accused of giving her an illegal pay increase.

Beverly Hills Unified Asst. Supt. Sal Gumina testified in Hubbard's criminal trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court that he was copied on memos written by his then-boss that ordered payroll to grant the district's former Facilities Director Karen Anne Christiansen a $20,000 bonus and raise her car allowance to $500.

But because the memos were not addressed directly to him and were sent to an employee in payroll, Gumina testified that he would have assumed the increases had already won approval from the school board. And it was rare, he said, for employees to check up on or second-guess Hubbard's directives.

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"If there is a directive from the superintendent to pay ... it would have already gone to the board, the board would have approved it and the minutes would have reflected it," Gumina said, although he added that the memo should have come with necessary attachments reflecting that the bonus was given the OK by school board members.

Hubbard, 54, who is now superintendent of Newport-Mesa Unified, faces three felony counts of misappropriation of public funds. He has pleaded not guilty to the allegations that about five years ago he gave illegal bonuses to Christiansen and a pay raise to another employee.

Christiansen, 53, in a separate trial was recently sentenced to prison after being convicted on conflict-of-interest charges.

Judge Stephen A. Marcus asked Gumina if a memo from Hubbard carried more weight or importance than one from a principal asking to pay a coach or teacher overtime.

"I would say yes. He's the boss," Gumina said.

Hubbard's defense attorney, Sal Ciulla, argued that it was an oversight by Gumina, not an intentional flub on Hubbard's part, that resulted in the payment going through without school board approval.

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