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UPDATE: McNeil, Stephens removed from key LA County Assessor management slots; banned from county offices

Note: Updated at 10:26 a.m. on Wednesday:

By Brian Hews

Two key members of embattled Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez inner circle have been removed from their jobs as of Tuesday afternoon, Los Cerritos Community Newspaper can confirm.
Mark Mc Neil, who is the West District Division Chief and his counterpart Andrew Stephens who oversees the East District operation for the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office have been removed from their positions.
Los Cerritos Community Newspaper obtained a copy of an internal memo late Tuesday afternoon under the direction of Santos Kriemann, Chief Deputy Assessor that confirmed the move.
On Wednesday a regional meeting of Assessor employees took place in which it was announced that Stephens and Mc Neil had been put on paid administrative leave and that they “are to have no contact with any employee inside the Assessor’s office, and they are not allowed inside any county office.”
LCCN published hundreds of internal emails between Stephens and McNeil during the past several months that outline their close working relationship with several private tax agents who represent multimillion dollar property owners in Los Angeles County including Ramin Salari, who is one of the key figures involved into a massive criminal probe that alleges “pay to play” allegations by members of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Kriemann said in the email that “after careful consideration of the department’s current management assignments, and in an effort to encourage a collegial environment of collaboration and mutual respect, I have concluded that changes are needed.”
Kriemann was handed control of the office last week after Noguez took a paid leave of absence from his $190,000 a year position to devote his energies to a possible criminal defense in the massive probe.
More than 300 law enforcement officials raided the officers of McNeil, Stephens, Noguez, Salari and several other locations in a massive raid two months ago.
Los Cerritos Community Newspaper was the first news agency to report on the current investigation. Property Appraiser Scott Schenter who worked under Mc Neil was arrested nearly 35 days ago on more than 60 felony counts and is currently in a Los Angeles County jail being held on a $1.5 million bail.

Copyright. Los Cerritos Community Newspaper.
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