Los Angeles County CEO William Fujioka today recommended that the director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors—Santos Kreimann—be appointed acting county assessor, replacing John Noguez, who will take a leave of absence amid an ongoing corruption probe.
Fujioka cited Kreimann's "exceptional management skills" as one reason for his recommendation.
The Board of Supervisors deferred a vote on the matter to next week, "so that the public has an opportunity to react," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
Fujioka said he wanted someone who would not be "just a gatekeeper" but able to conduct a broad review of the department's processes and procedures. Kreimann has 20 years of experience with the county and has worked in the CEO's office as part of a group focused on real estate issues and spent time in the Treasurer and Tax Collector's Office. He has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Cal State Los Angeles.
Yaroslavsky expressed concern about how the Department of Beaches and Harbors would manage without Kreimann, noting that he could be acting assessor "for a few months or three years."
Fujioka cited a strong bench of other officials at Beaches and Harbors and added that his own office would take a stronger supervisory role.
District Attorney Steve Cooley is investigating allegations that Noguez' office reduced the assessed value of properties in exchange for campaign contributions. Scott Schenter, 49, an appraiser who worked 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 slashed property values by about $172 million to lower tax bills for owners of multimillion-dollar homes, condominiums and businesses in Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades, in exchange for political contributions for Noguez.
Noguez, an elected official, announced June 1 he would take a leave from his post, giving the board the authority to temporarily replace him. His leave will not take effect until Kreimann or someone else has been hired as chief deputy assessor. At that point, the chief deputy would step in as interim assessor.