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Judge overturns Christiansen's conviction

She worked alongside former Newport-Mesa Supt. Hubbard when they were both employed in Beverly Hills. Both were convicted of felonies.

June 03, 2013|From staff reports

An appellate court has overturned the 2011 conviction on conflict-of-interest charges of a school official tied to former Newport-Mesa Unified Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard.

In addition to directing that all charges against Karen Anne Christiansen be dismissed, Judge Stephen A. Marcus on Friday also vacated her four-year prison sentence and the approximately $3.5-million restitution payment a L.A. County Superior Court judge had ordered her to make.

Christiansen, 55, the Beverly Hills Unified School District's former planning and facilities director, had been convicted on four counts of conflict-of-interest charges for taking more than $1.3 million through a contract she steered to herself. She worked for Hubbard when he was superintendent there.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said she encouraged school officials to borrow money for a building campaign while she planned to direct the management contract to herself.

Her company, Strategic Concepts, began drawing more than $200,000 a month until she was fired, according to the district attorney's office.

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On appeal, Christiansen's attorneys argued that the code under which she had been charged did not apply because she was a consultant and independent contractor to the district, not a member, officer or employee.

She had previously worked as an employee, but that status changed in 2006.

In a separate 2012 trial, Hubbard was convicted on two felony counts misappropriating public funds to Christiansen while the two worked in Beverly Hills. He was never accused of wrongdoing in Newport-Mesa but was fired by the school board after his conviction.

This report was compiled the staffs of the Los Angeles Times and Daily Pilot.

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