Beverly Hills News
Conviction Reversed For BH School Executive
By Shelby Stiner
Jun 4, 2013 - 3:11:20 PM
BEVERLY HILLS—The conviction of a former Beverly Hills school executive, who was sentenced to four years in prison, has been overturned by an appellate court.
Karen Christiansen leaves Santa Monica courthouse. Photo courtesy of Daily Pilot.
Karen Anne Christiansen, the former planning and facilites director for the Beverly Hills Unified School District, was found guilty in 2011 of stealing more than $1.3 million dollars from the school district through a building contract she steered toward herself.
She was sentenced to more than four years in state prison after being convicted on four counts of conflict-of-interest charges.
According to the district attorney’s office, Christiansen’s company, Strategic Concepts, drew more than $200,000 a month until she was fired.
Evidence showed Christiansen received a monthly car allowance from her former boss, superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard, without the Beverly Hills school board’s approval.
The two were believed to have a secret relationship, sending love pledges and oral-sex references to one another through email.
Hubbard, who was superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District at the time of his arrest, was convicted on two counts of felony of misappropriation of public funds.
In her appeal, Christiansen’s attorneys argued that because she was a consultant for the district and not an employee, the code under which she was charged did not apply.
The charges against Christiansen dismissed, and the court also revoked the $3.5 million restitution payment she was ordered to make by Judge Stephen A. Marcus and vacated her four year prison sentence.
“The Court of Appeal got it right,” said Hillel Chodos, one of Christiansen’s attorneys. “It’s pretty sad that [she] has had to put up with three years of misery for nothing.”
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