Southern California breaking news and trends

County supervisors appoint deputy to lead Assessor's Office

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously recommended the director of Beaches and Harbors to the position of chief deputy assessor.

The man appointed to run the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office while the district attorney completes an investigation said he wants to restore public confidence in an office hit by allegations of misconduct and abuse.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously and without discussion recommended Santos Kreimann, director of Beaches and Harbors, for the position of chief deputy assessor. Kreimann will serve as acting head of the office while Assessor John Noguez takes a voluntary leave of absence.

The District Attorney's Office is looking into allegations that assessed values were lowered for property owners who donated to Noguez's campaign. Last month, a former appraiser was arrested for allegedly lowering values by $172 million. Scott Schenter has pleaded not guilty to 60 felony counts. 

Kreimann has worked for Los Angeles County for 20 years. 

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Zev Yaroslavsky: Alleged misconduct in LA assessor's office a 'tragic situation'

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Corey Bridwell/KPCC

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky called the ongoing investigation into the county Assessor's Office "tragic" today in an interview with KPCC.

The person who leads the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office in John Noguez’s absence will have to be “tough enough to restore order and integrity to an office that has a cloud over it,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told KPCC today.

The Board of Supervisors will consider a motion at its meeting on Wednesday that instructs the chief executive officer to recommend one or more candidates to be the chief deputy assessor. That person will then be placed in charge of the office while Noguez is on leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the district attorney.

“This is a tragic situation that we’re facing in that office,” said Yaroslavsky, chair of the board.

Without a doubt, the chief deputy assessor must come from outside of the office, he said. 

The candidate will be, “somebody whose got no entanglements with any of the people in the management of that office and someone who can turn the department, the Office of the Assessor, around. Who can hire and fire people and who is willing to make the tough choices to identify the people who are contaminating the office from an integrity point of view and get rid of them,” Yaroslavsky said.

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Noguez attorney: Decision to leave best for assessor's office

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An attorney for Assessor John Noguez tells KPCC that the decision to temporarily step down is what's best for the office.

County Assessor John Noguez’s decision to take a leave of absence was made to quiet the political noise created by the district attorney’s ongoing investigation into allegations of misconduct, his attorney told KPCC today.

It is unclear how long Noguez’s leave will last.

“John Noguez has served the Assessor’s Office for over 27 years. He has served as a low-level official and now he’s serving as the tax assessor,” said his attorney Michael J. Proctor. “He cares deeply about the office, and the climate has become such that he felt it was best for the professionalism of the office to allow somebody else, on a temporary basis, to manage the office.” 

Both District Attorney Steve Cooley and Supervisor Mike Antonovich had called for Noguez to step down pending an investigation into whether assessed property values were improperly reduced.

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County Assessor John Noguez to take a leave of office pending investigation [updated]

Photo by John Noguez via Flickr Creative Commons

Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez announced today he will take a leave of office while the district attorney continues to look into allegations of misconduct.

The Los Angeles County assessor announced today his intention to take a leave from office while the District Attorney’s Office continues its investigation into allegations of misconduct.

John Noguez will leave office once the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appoints someone to serve as the chief deputy assessor in charge of the office. The issue is expected to be discussed at Wednesday's board meeting at the Hall of Administration. 

“In the interest of restoring public confidence in the professionalism, integrity, and impartiality of the Assessor's Office, I intend to take a leave of absence from my duties as assessor,” Nogeuz wrote in a letter to the Board of Supervisors. “I do not take this decision lightly. Rather, I do this with the solemn hope that my leave of absence will allow the professionals at the Assessor's Office to continue to serve the taxpayers and citizens of this county.”

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Board of Supervisors questions what's next if Assessor John Noguez leaves office

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The Board of Supervisors would be responsible for appointing a replacement should the county assessor's office have a vacancy.

The five members of the Board of Supervisors would be responsible for appointing a replacement in the event the county assessor’s office has a vacancy, according to a report released today in the wake of an ongoing investigation into the assessor’s accounting. 

The report from County Counsel was drafted in response to the district attorney’s ongoing investigation into allegations that Assessor John Noguez improperly lowered the assessed value of properties to give campaign contributors a financial break.

Last week, a former county appraiser pleaded not guilty to allegations he reduced property values by $172 million. Scott Schenter has been charged with 60 felony counts.

District Attorney Steve Cooley and Supervisor Mike Antonovich have both called for Noguez to step aside during the investigation. Noguez has denied any wrongdoing.

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