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Karen Christiansen Ordered to Pay $3.5 Million Restitution to BHUSD

The former facilities director was ordered Friday to reimburse the school district for legal fees.

Former Beverly Hills Unified School District facilities director Karen Christiansen was ordered Friday to pay an additional $1.5 million to the district in restitution fees, bringing her total restitution to $3.5 million, according to Board of Education President Brian Goldberg.

“Clearly this is a victory for the district and clearly the judge recognized that if it weren’t for her criminal actions the district would not have had to spend the $1.5 million in legal fees that we spent prosecuting her,” Goldberg told Patch.

Christiansen, 53, was sentenced to Jan. 5 after a jury found her guilty of related to charges that she secretly negotiated a deal to be an independent BHUSD contractor while performing her duties as the district's facilities director. She was told at the time that she would likely have to pay $2 million in restitution to BHUSD along with a possible $1.5 million to reimburse the district for legal fees.

Christiansen remains free on $400,000 bail while her case is appealed.

Judge Stephen Marcus  ruled that Christiansen was responsible for the BHUSD’s attorney fees related to defending itself from the $16 million civil lawsuit she filed against the BHUSD for firing her after her conflicts of interest were discovered.

“We are going to try to collect this judgment through civil action and any means necessary including liens on property, wage garnishment, etc.,” Goldberg said.

Christiansen's former boss, ex-BHUSD Superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard, now 55, was sentenced Feb. 23 to and three years of felony probation. He was found guilty of illegally authorizing two payments of $10,000 each and a $500 monthly car allowance to Christiansen. Hubbard was also ordered to pay a $6,000 fine and $23,500 in restitution to the district for misappropriating public funds. He served four days in jail out of his sentence.

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Brian David Goldberg, PhD April 06, 2012 at 09:48 PM
This brings the total restitution that we have recovered to roughly $10,175,000 and the district has collected roughly 5,000,025.00 in cash from those involved, nearly half the funds owed.
George Vreeland Hill April 07, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Good news. Now let's see how much of that $3.5 million the BHUSD will be able to collect. This also sends a message that wrongdoings will be dealt with. George Vreeland Hill
Brian David Goldberg, PhD April 08, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Agreed, we will do our best to collect as much as we can.
Tom Culp April 08, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Mr. Goldberg, I'm worried about how much will it cost us to collect This money? An order to pay is not the same as cash in the bank. The papers are saying she has no money, no property and as a convicted felon she can’t get a real job can she?. What is the next course of action? Nothing can happen until after her appeal and or jail time right? Do the lawyers think we will see any of it or is there no hope of seeing the $3.5 million dollars?
Tom Culp April 09, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Mr. Goldberg, Was $1 million dollars spent to recover $20 thousand from Mr. Hubbard? I don’t mean to play devil’s advocate, but why did Beverly Hills have to pay for the “message” that has been sent here? How did the district decide to go after this guy after so many years? I must be missing something, can you clarify?
Brian David Goldberg, PhD April 09, 2012 at 04:27 PM
No we did not spend 1 million to recovery 25,000 dollars. As we were looking into the Christensen matter more and more evidence surfaced showing a clear pattern of conflict of interest and we passed that information on to the District Attorney's office who than brought charges. The legal fees we spent were a direct result of Christensen's actions. These convictions will help us as we sell restitution from other parties who were involved in this massive mishandling of our bond finds. It took many people for this to happen many have deep pockets that we can recover funds from
Russ Levi April 09, 2012 at 05:46 PM
This resident cannot imagine anyone else doing a better job of cleaning up several difficulties in the district than you, Brian and the new majority of the LAST Board.
Tom Culp April 09, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Mr. Goldberg, How much more do we have to spend to recover funds from these other people. Is the district going to lose more money if Christiansen wins her appeal? What happens then?
Joe Parker April 09, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Tom, I don't think the District has lost any money at this point. They have already recovered $5 million, with another million on its way. Collecting on the restitution awards from Christiansen and Hubbard might be challenging, especially if Christiansen wins her appeal, which seems unlikely. The trials were conducted by the DA's office and the only costs to the District during the trials were the attorneys who were sometimes present to represent District employees. What cost the District the most was the time expended on all this - time that could have been used to further the education of the students and modernize the schools.
Tom Culp April 10, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Joe, Over 3 million was lost to lawyers. Thank you for speaking for Mr. Goldberg, but if Christiansen only pays 1.5 where’s the rest? Just doesn’t add up to me, that’s why I asked Mr. Goldberg.
Joe Parker April 10, 2012 at 02:20 AM
But Tom, $5 million is already in the bank with another $1 million guaranteed to come. So $3 million was not lost. See: http://bhcourier.com/article/Local/Local/District_Scores_Big_Cash_Win_Against_Contractor/82878?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
Tom Culp April 10, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Joe, can’t Goldberg speak for himself? We have waited a long time for some answers, I don’t think I’m asking that much. To me a 3 million dollar loss is still a loss even if we got 5 million back during that time period. Realistically we don’t even know if JCI had anything to do with the lawyer fees connected to Christiansen. I read it was a sealed settlement and details can’t be disclosed so that could mean anything. I don’t know what to believe anymore so just because it was printed in the paper doesn’t make it true, you should know that.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD April 10, 2012 at 09:51 PM
All these matters are related, the District has settled or been ordered over 10 million dollars, we have collected $5,000,025.00 to date. We expect close to another million this year. The additional funds we will have to wait and see. Our legal few relate to all these issues and a few that are still pending. What I know is we stop the losses for Measure E, recovery some of the damages from Measure K and ensure two of the people responsible for this can never harm another district because part of their punishment includes a ban from working for other public schools. We still have pending litigation but our financials are audited each and every year and made available to the public. We have nothing to hide and I know that we prevented further tax payer money from being lost and recovered a good portion of those funds. I am proud of my role in uncovering this and pushing for us to seek restitution from all parties involved.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD April 10, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Thank you Russ!
Tom Culp April 11, 2012 at 05:51 AM
Mr. Goldberg Measure E wasn't supposed to cost us any more money. Now we are under threat of a tax raise. Can we see why JCI paid? I don’t think that just because Christiansen had some side work with them it would cause them to cough up 5 million. There’s just no info here, Thanks for replying BTW but you didn’t clarify anything. We paid for this action, why is it a secret? You dont have to say anything here. Put it in your news letter.
Joe Parker April 11, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Tom, forgive me for speaking up again, but my understanding is that one of the conditions in the settlement with JCI is that the details are kept confidential. I highly suspect that Dr. Goldberg had to sign this agreement. Though I don't have the information you want, i.e. why JCI paid, I do know the District collected this money and their accounting shows it.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD April 11, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Tom, you seem to be mixing a lot of issues together, I wish I could say more about the settlement but I do not want to jepordize the district from receiving our full settlement amount, as stated that was part of the settlement. As a member of the community you certainly could request a copy through a Freedom of Information Request, I believe both local papers received a copy through those means. As for the tax increase, the board has not taken any action yet, but we did give direction to increase to the maximum allowed under the Prop. 39 bill. I have a proposal for my colleagues on the board to consider that I will be dicussing in closed under potential litigation and a proposal regarding gettng community imput that I will bring up during Open session. I would encourage you and any other community members to attend the next regualarly scheduled Board meeting, Tuesday, April 24th at 7 pm in the Salter Theatre at the Beverly Hills High School. For more informaiton on the agenda which will be posted 72 hours prior to the meeting visit www.bhusd.org

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