The California Supreme Court upheld the conviction of former Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard on charges of misappropriating funds.
The decision, which was made public in a finding released on June 16, overturns a lower court ruling that reversed Hubbard’s conviction for misappropriating funds when he was superintendent from July 2003 to June 2006. Hubbard was convicted during a 2012 jury trial. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and 208 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay $23,500 restitution to the school district, according to Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Philip Kaufler, who represented Hubbard in the case before the California Supreme Court, said his client had already fulfilled the terms of his sentencing but sought to have the criminal charges struck from the record. The restitution was paid to the school district, he added.
The crimes occurred in 2005 and 2006 and involved compensation Hubbard approved for the BHUSD’s then-director of planning and facilities Karen Christiansen. Hubbard gave Christiansen a $20,000 stipend and increased her monthly automobile allowance from $150 to $500 because of additional duties she had undertaken with construction projects, according to the court’s ruling.
Prosecutors alleged that Hubbard misappropriated funds by unilaterally giving the increases to Christiansen without seeking approval from the school board. Hubbard’s attorney argued that the school board had been consulted, but evidence at trial did not support the claims.
In 2014, the 2nd District Court of Appeals reversed Hubbard’s conviction. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the California Attorney General’s Office later petitioned the California Supreme Court to review the appellate court’s ruling.
The Supreme Court justices considered the legal question of whether Hubbard, as superintendent, was “charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer or disbursement of public moneys,” according to the court’s ruling. The justices ruled that Hubbard’s position as superintendent satisfied that legal requirement.
“His employment contract made clear that he was responsible for implementing policies in the realm of budgeting and business affairs, and for taking the lead in raising money for school facilities,” the ruling read.
Kaufler said his client was disappointed by the ruling and is “exploring further options.” Hubbard left the Beverly Hills Unified School District and later served as superintendent for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District before retiring. Kaufler said Hubbard’s restitution would have been returned had the California Supreme Court upheld the appellate court’s decision to reverse the conviction.
“It was an attempt to clear his name,” Kaufler added.
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