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Karen Christiansen Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison

The former BHUSD facilities director may have to repay the district more than $2 million.

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 .

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  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  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  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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Brian David Goldberg, PhD January 07, 2012 at 12:53 AM
It was the Santa Barbara and Sacramento Schools. Here is a link to the article. http://m.allbusiness.com/education-training/education-administration/15408918-1.html
Miss BH January 07, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Brain that was a default judgment because her Lawyer didn’t show up for court. Obviously the DA and no one else thought it was important. Now if she was convicted and found guilty. Then found guilty again in appeal like you were for…and let me get this right…Thursday in court the Lawyer said you were convicted of FRUAD and COOKING THE BOOKS. Now you are board president…like anything else it will all catch up to you someday.
John Mirisch January 07, 2012 at 09:48 PM
As someone who opposed Measure E from the beginning because of the lack of accountability, because it seemed to represent a blank check and because of the potential for kickbacks and corruption, I am glad the DA has taken the charges seriously. Hopefully, it will send a strong message. It is simply wrong to suggest that a criminal conviction, where the standards of proof are much higher, is similar to civil litigation, where lower standards of proof make it oftentimes a crapshoot. It's clear Miss BH is a close personal friend of Karen Christiansen and that she personally attended the sentencing hearing. Ms. Christiansen's case is a very sad one in many respects, but attacking Brian Goldberg will not help her cause. Brian Goldberg showed in the last election that he has the trust of the BH community. He almost doubled the vote count of his nearest rival. Goldberg deserves and has earned that trust through steadfast, wise and courageous leadership, often in the face of difficulties and adversity.
ConcernedParent January 08, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Let me break it down for you! The Board is suppose to hold the Superintendent Accountable! If the Board was doing its job back then NMUSD wouldn't have this idiot Hubbard on a paid leave making $26(k) a month for about 6 months! We wouldn't have his other girlfriend in the NMUSD either! Karen got greedy and she got exactly what she deserved! Parents taxpayers need to ensure the Board is doing their job of babysitting these incompetent corrupt idiots hired at the Disrtict! Thank you BH Board for allowing us to endure this incompetent corrupt cheating Superintendent Hubbard!
Miss BH January 08, 2012 at 02:56 AM
John I will say I’m impressed with the way your comment was written. Much better than someone like Ben saying to visit her through glass when he knows she’s out on bail and always has been. However I was comparing Karen’s civil case to Brian’s and it’s a testament to his character and I know your very close to him so I understand your defense.
ConcernedParent January 08, 2012 at 03:44 AM
The Board needs be held accountable! Taxpayers step up and clean house! We have to do it at NMUSD!
Miss BH January 08, 2012 at 04:37 AM
@ConceredParent you couldnt be more right because its their job to "know"
ConcernedParent January 08, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Goldberg and his Board cronies are just as guilty and should be held accountable for their negligence! What inferiorates me more is if this Board was doing their job then Hubbard wouldn't be down here in Newport Mesa with his other girlfriend taking a paid leave to prepare for his trial! In corporate America this idiot would have been terminated on his emails alone! Sooo Goldberg thanks for aiding in moving another incompetent corrupt cheating superintendent!
Brian David Goldberg, PhD January 08, 2012 at 07:32 AM
I was the only Board member to vote against Christensen your Board hired Hubbard before I was on the Board and your Board has kept him since these allegations came out. When I became aware of their wrong doing we took it to DA who has brought chafes and now secured 4 felony convictions against Christensen and the trial has starred against Hubbard. You should check your facts and dates before you make accusations that are not backed up by the facts.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD January 08, 2012 at 07:39 AM
Once again misstating facts. Her lawyer also said she was not guilty and that she did nothing wrong. If only what he said were true. Here are the facts your friend misappropriated money from the Students, Parents, Staff and Residents of Beverly Hills. She was Convicted on four felony charges and sentenced to 4 years and 4 months in State Prison and ordered to pay restitution for her illegal gain to the District. I was the only Board member to stand up and speak out against her activities the minutes of the meetings and the tapes of the meetings back that up.
ConcernedParent January 08, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Goldberg the fact that you are replying to this blog is pathetic! My facts are straight if the BH Board Members were doing their job this incompetent cheating lieing thief wouldn't be down here! Our Board needs to be removed as all but one of them are just as incompetent as Hubbard! There is no accountability at any level! Corruption at its finest! Look at Tim Bryan HS Principal at CdM he doesn't know how to discipline 10 kids who got caught cheating! Haha these people would never make it in corporate America theyd be chewed up and spit out before their first morning break!
Miss BH January 08, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Brian you voted for Karen’s contract and were in favor of her you only voted against the amendment. I maybe a bad speller but I can read. All I’m going to say is it’s not your judgment day but when it is we will all read the truth.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD January 08, 2012 at 08:54 PM
No I voted for an amendment that paid her less money, proud to have reduced how much she could get from District and proud to have been the only Board member to vote against her contract that has now be found to be invalid. Once again check the facts at www.bhusd.org rather than listen to a person who does not list her name and personally profited from Karen's misdeeds
Brian David Goldberg, PhD January 08, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Another anonymous posters who does not have the courage to either identify him/herself or do anything about the corruption around them. I actually did something and continue to work on these issues and take the personal attacks from individuals that are not informed or who personally profited from this corruption
Miss BH January 08, 2012 at 10:26 PM
I did read it did you? It states that the hourly rates were based on what work BHUSD wanted done.....the hourly rates acutally INCREASED from the orginal 2006 contract.....the 2008 contract work plan was for over 1.2 million.......even AFTER Measure K was mostly complete..AND two of Stategic conepts jobs were to complete the master plan and find money for the needed improvements (for example--A BOND). Why do you say you wernt in favor of the bond when I came to your house for a Measure E meating? Do you remember showing me your Segway? I just gave you a clue as to who Iam, also I never worked for the school district so how did I profit?. I dont say anything just because I heard it somewhere or from an opportunist like yourself.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD January 08, 2012 at 10:48 PM
You worked for Karen and profited from her misdeeds and now you are trying to rewrite history. Revisionist history. I abstained from the Bond vote, check the record. I voted no on Karen's contract for the Bond because of the clear conflicts and no bid process all part of the record. Again feel free to view the minutes on line and the tapes of the meetings www.bhusd.org
ConcernedParent January 08, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Goldberg the issue is at NMUSD when parents step forward their children are retaliated against by the school administrators and by some (not all) teachers! The Board does nothing when these issues are brought forward! Katrina Foley is one Board member that isn't corrupt and actually cares!!!! She was the only one to vote against Hubbard's paid leave to prepare for his trial! It is a sad day and age when a parent raises a concern to a school principal that a teacher is brining her toddler to school while teaching (free daycare) the principal then shares this conversation with the teacher and the teacher begins to bully the student by calling her retarded and stupid, ignoring the student! Parent goes to the school board meeting to bring this issue to light and after this meeting her rights are taken away as the parent is told she can no longer communicate with the teacher including NOT emailing the teacher! The parent removed the child from the district! Shame on ALL these paid servants!!!
Marie Cunningham (Editor) January 08, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Hello Patch readers. This is a very heated topic. Please be respectful to one another. I will not hesitate to suspend user accounts. I have already had to do so with regards to this thread. Keep it civil. No name calling. Let's be adults. -Marie Cunningham, Beverly Hills Patch editor
Miss BH January 08, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Sorry
Miss BH January 09, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Brian you have yourself convinced, your not worth my time on this blog anymore.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD January 09, 2012 at 05:48 AM
www.bhusd.org for the facts
Miss BH January 09, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Golberg how much did you cost the district? The DA said 2.5 million in legal fee's. You admit pursuing this chaos. The facts are...if you terminated startegic concepts correctly it would have cost much less than half of that. It's in the contract. Why did you leave an open door to be sued? Because it's all about promoting Goldberg. The judge said you didn't do your due dilligents. So you had to buy a convition for 2.5 million instead of saying we have no more work for you. Then persuing your actions with the DA after.explain
Brian David Goldberg, PhD January 09, 2012 at 06:31 PM
More facts, recovered 6.6 million from conflicted contract Karen negotiated and now Judge Marcus has said he will order Karen to pay restitution of at least $2,050,000 but may order more at restitution hearingin February. Again, the facts are the facts you can try and spin all you want but these are the facts.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD January 09, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Judge actually said some board members pointed this out and than quoted what I said at the meeting I voted against her contract at. Again, the facts not your spin.
Miss BH January 09, 2012 at 06:47 PM
You still didn't answer the question.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD January 09, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Not sure you asked a question, you made a statement into a question that is not supported by the facts. The DA brought charges because laws had been broken.
Miss BH January 09, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I asked why you didn't follow procedure? You dont fire somebody and hope the Da van find them guilty for something 2 years later. Your action cost beverly hills an extra million or more. Try to collect it from someone in prison...smooth move. Karen showed up in court everyday. What was yoir excuse
Miss BH January 09, 2012 at 07:51 PM
e when you were ordered to be there? What are you hidding? I would think it would be an important day for you.
Marie Cunningham (Editor) January 09, 2012 at 09:20 PM
The account for "Miss BH" has been suspended. Please remember to be respectful when commenting on Beverly Hills Patch.
Russ Levi January 10, 2012 at 09:20 AM
Dear readers, Mr. Brian Goldberg, PhD, is not a Bd. of Ed. Member who approved the guilty party's contract. While other former board members wanted to ignore the past wrong and plow ahead as if there was no benefit to chasing the guilty in court, instead of simply spending money without positive results as has been written in this series of comments, his actions benefited the district by over 6 1/2 million dollars. Plus, there is possibly more pending payment from the guilty party. This writer came to endorse Brian BECAUSE he asked the right questions and pursued the correct legal course in cooperation with the board's majority. And, this is why he won his recent election by over 1,000 votes. Brian is arguably the most effective board of education member in recent history. He led the change of direction and the previous lack of oversight that has greatly benefited our city's public school-educated children. Thank you.

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