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Hubbard convicted of two felony counts

Newport-Mesa Unified schools chief found guilty of misappropriating public funds while he was schools chief in Beverly Hills

trustees to discuss the verdict Tuesday.

January 23, 2012|By Lauren Williams
  • Newport-Mesa Unified Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard, right, looks at his lawyer, Sal Ciulla, after being found guilty of two felony counts Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Hubbard said he plans to appeal the decision.
Newport-Mesa Unified Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard, right,… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

LOS ANGELES — Newport-Mesa Unified Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard was convicted Monday of two felony charges for misappropriating public funds during his tenure as the schools chief for Beverly Hills.

A jury in Los Angeles County Superior Court found Hubbard, 54, guilty of giving to a subordinate $20,000 in bonuses and increasing her car allowance without required school board approval. He was acquitted on a third felony charge that he illegally increased another subordinate's pay.

Just after the verdicts were read, Hubbard appeared stunned and placed a hand on his face.

"I don't know how I can be guilty when there are so many checks and balances," Hubbard told the Daily Pilot shortly after his conviction, adding that "of course" he would appeal.

Hubbard was released on his own recognizance. He faces up to five years in prison at his sentencing Feb. 23, but because he has no prior criminal record, it is unknown whether he is likely to serve time.

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He testified last week that he thought other Beverly Hills Unified employees would put the directives to pay the administrator on a school board agenda, and that he told school board members about the payments in closed session.

Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman said he was pleased with the verdict and called the oversight of public funds "absolutely critical," adding that the jury's decision can serve as a message to others in positions of power.

Hubbard's future running the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, a responsibility he's had since 2006, was not immediately clear. State officials have said that he would likely be allowed to retain his credentials — a requirement of his job description — during the appeals process, but the school board can terminate his contract at will or place him on leave.

Newport-Mesa Unified school board trustees plan to have a closed-session meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday "to take appropriate action," said board President Dave Brooks.

"I really can't believe it, but they're the jury," Brooks said shortly after the verdict was reached.

Brooks, who attended every day of the nearly two-week trial, said the trustees will review the verdict with the district's legal counsel.

A majority of Newport-Mesa Unified's seven-member school board publicly stood by Hubbard throughout the criminal proceedings, allowing him to take more than five months of paid leave so he could prepare for his trial.

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