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Noguez Investigation: Board of Supes Appoints Temporary Assessor

Santos Kreimann will step in for John Noguez, who is on leave while his office is under investigation.

The Board of Supervisors today confirmed the appointment of the head of county Beaches and Harbors to run the assessor's office while investigators look at allegations of property values being adjusted downward in exchange for political contributions under Assessor John Noguez, who is starting a leave of absence.

Santos Kreimann has more than 20 years of service with the county.

The vote to confirm of Kreimann followed a closed-door Board of Supervisors hearing to evaluate department heads and discuss Kreimann's appointment as chief deputy assessor.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky called for the private hearing, saying he anticipated that the discussion would be brief. But the closed-door session lasted more than an hour, exasperating some members of the public, who were waiting to address board members.

Marina del Rey activist Jon Nahhas -- he was among those who scolded the board for the wait -- urged the supervisors to consider other candidates for the assessor's role, including those who ran against Noguez for the office in 2010.

But the vote to confirm Kreimann was unanimous and without any public discussion.

Last week, Noguez said he would start his leave as soon as Kreimann was confirmed to run the office.

Kreimann has 20 years of experience in various county departments and oversight experience in public finance, property development and capital improvement projects. He has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Cal State Los Angeles.

"I am eager to dedicate my full attention to reviewing and improving policies and procedures necessary to restore the public's confidence in the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office," Kreimann said. "My goal is to reestablish the department as the premier property assessment agency in the nation."

County CEO William Fujioka, who recommended Kreimann for the job, reiterated his vote of confidence.

"Santos is a highly qualified county leader and is fully prepared to guide the assessor's staff in providing essential public services to county residents."

District Attorney investigators are looking at allegations that employees of the assessor's office worked hand-in-hand with tax agents representing property owners to low-ball property values in exchange for campaign contributions.

Scott Schenter, 49, an appraiser in the Assessor's Office from 1988 to 2011, was arrested May 21 and charged with 60 felony counts of falsifying accounts and records. Schenter allegedly reduced property values in Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades by about $172 million, paving the way for lower taxes.

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