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Supervisors Pick Interim Head of Assessor's Office

Santos Kreimann, director of the county's Beaches and Harbors department, will take over for Assessor John Noguez, who is on a leave of absence while his office is investigated for allegedly reducing property values in exchange for political contributions

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

The board appointed Santos Kreimann, who has more than 20 years of service with the county, on a unanimous vote.

The vote to confirm Kreimann followed a closed-door 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—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.

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 in a statement. "My goal is to reestablish the department as the premier property assessment agency in the nation.''

District Attorney investigators are looking into 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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