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Court tosses Beverly Hills schools executive’s conviction

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An appellate court has overturned the 2011 conviction of a former Beverly Hills school executive who was sentenced to four years in prison after being found guilty of taking more than $1.3 million through a contract she allegedly steered to herself.

In addition to directing that all charges against Karen Anne Christiansen be dismissed, Judge Stephen A. Marcus also vacated her prison sentence and the approximately $3.5-million restitution payment an L.A. County Superior Court judge had ordered her to make.

Christiansen, 55, the Beverly Hills Unified School District’s former planning and facilities director, had been convicted on four counts of conflict-of-interest charges.

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Her boss, former Beverly Hills schools Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard, was convicted on two felony counts of misappropriating public funds to Christiansen when the two worked together in Beverly Hills. At the time of his conviction, Hubbard was superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

At the time of Christiansen’s conviction, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said she encouraged school officials to borrow money for a building campaign while she planned to direct the management contract to herself.

Her company, Strategic Concepts, began drawing more than $200,000 a month until she was fired, according to the district attorney’s office.

On appeal, Christiansen’s attorneys argued that the code under which she had been charged did not apply because she was a consultant and independent contractor to the district, not a member, officer or employee.

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--Daily Pilot


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