BEVERLY HILLS—On Thursday, June 16, court records were published which upheld the decision made by the California Supreme Court which convicted former Beverly Hills Unified School District Superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard guilty of misappropriating public funds. The Los Angeles County Superior Court convicted Hubbard in January 2012 with two felony counts of misappropriating public funds while he was superintendent of the district from July 2003 to June 2006.
Hubbard’s conviction was originally thrown out by the appellate court, but the ruling was overturned by the California Supreme Court. Hubbard was originally investigated and the case was brought in connection with the payment of a $20,000 stipend and a car allowance increase to an individual in the department.
The charges and investigations began from allegations that Hubbard paid former director of District of Planning and Facilities Karen Christiansen, a bonus and increased her monthly car allowance from $150 to $500 in 2005. In 2006, she received a $20,000 stipend according to court documents received by the Los Angeles Times.
According to the LA Times, following his departure from the Beverly Hills Unified School District he joined the Newport-Mesa Unified School District as a superintendent and was fired after he was convicted. Hubbard had appealed the trial court’s decision to the state’s Second District Court of Appeal.
The California Supreme Court reversed the original December 2013 ruling by a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal. The ruling ordered a LA Supreme Court Judge to dismiss the charges. The state Supreme Court ruled that the California statute under which Hubbard was charged “does not punish innocent mistakes by those in positions of public trust.” “Rather, it punishes those like Hubbard who, aware of the wrongfulness of their conduct or criminally negligent of that fact, nonetheless misappropriate the public funds they have a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard,” wrote Associate Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar on behalf of the panel.
“In light of Hubbard’s explicit contractual responsibilities to oversee the ‘budget and business affairs’ of the district, testimony that superintendents like Hubbard owe a duty to safeguard school district funds, and Hubbard’s responsibility to ensure such public funds were spent in accordance with the law, we hold the evidence was sufficient,” Cuellar wrote, with the other six justices concurring. “Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”
Hubbard was sentenced in February 2012 to serve 60 days in jail and complete 280 hours of community service. He also received three years of probation and was ordered to pay $23,500 in restitution to the school district and $6,000.
Hubbard’s attorney Philip Kaufler spoke with the Los Angeles Times and indicated that, “There’s nothing more he can do,” Kaufler said. “He already did the community service and fulfilled the court’s requirements. It was really about his reputation.”