Friday, January 06, 2012


Karen Christiansen may have to repay the district more than $2 million.


The Notebook By Laurie Lande/Beverly Hills Patch |

January 5, 2012  :: Former Beverly Hills Unified School District facilities director Karen Christiansen was sentenced to four years and four months in prison Thursday morning after a jury found her guilty of four felony conflict of interest charges.

The maximum amount of prison time that Christiansen could have received is eight years, two years for each conflict of interest charge. She is appealing the guilty verdicts.

Christiansen was ordered to pay $2,046,000 in restitution to the district for money it paid to her company, Strategic Concepts, according to Board of Education President Brian Goldberg. There will be a separate restitution hearing on Feb. 23. In addition, the judge ruled that Christiansen must pay the BHUSD $15,575 for a payment she received from a business she recommended to the district.

Christiansen will be able to remain free while her appeal is pending if she can post a $400,000 bail. She has been in custody since being found guilty Nov. 21 of four felony charges relating to a deal she negotiated to be an independent BHUSD contractor while performing her duties as facilities director. Christiansen had served as project manager for the $334 million Measure E bond and was reportedly also paid $5.2 million by the district for consultant services between 2006 and 2009.

The successful prosecution and sentencing of Christiansen bodes well for the BHUSD, which has spent more than $2 million on legal fees relating to the trial.

“This is a victory for our community and for government,” Goldberg, who was in attendance at the Thursday sentencing, told Patch.

The district recently recovered $6.6 million in a legal settlement from Johnson Controls, an Orange County energy company that secretly hired Christiansen to be a consultant. BHUSD officials are also pursuing settlements with other businesses that profited from their association with Christiansen.

Christiansen’s sentencing comes a day before a related trial starts for former BHUSD Superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard. He has been charged with three felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, including two counts stemming from allegations that he approved a raise and a car allowance for Christiansen without approval from the BHUSD school board.

Hubbard now serves as superintendent for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. He would lose his teaching and administrative credentials—and hence his job—if he is found guilty, the Daily Pilot reported Dec. 31.

The California Education Code bars a district from employing a superintendent who has lost his or her credentials. The Commission on Teacher Credentialing is required to automatically revoke credentials for the conviction of a felony misappropriation of public funds charge, Commission General Counsel Nanette F. Rufo told the Pilot. If Hubbard is found guilty, his credentials would be revoked once the criminal appeals process is complete, the newspaper reported.

Hubbard’s trial is scheduled to start Friday morning in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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