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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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  • monica says:

    It’s kind of scary how people are being CRUCIFIED in the public – without the true facts being disclosed. McNeil and Stephens were under orders from John (yes, a long time friend) Does this mean they were in cahoots with Noguez and Schenter? No! As the investigation will find, Schenter has been lining his own pockets WAY before the Noguez election. He wants to take people down with him, now that he’s been caught. McNeil and Noguez have worked together and have been friends, but there is nothing nefarious about it! Stephens, isn’t even considered a part of the “inner” circle – most likely, he was just another person who John was manipulating. Did you also know that Robert Meraz was Noguez’s long time lover? Yes, he hired his ex-lover to work with him side by side at the Hall of Adminstration- this guy is twisted! Unethical is name of the game here.

    • Alfred the Great says:

      Now that you guys have a lot of time on your hands, you can spend it making up names and telling silly stories.

  • Concerned says:

    Names like “Alfred the Great? Are you disputing that Robert Meraz is John Noguez’s ex boyfriend? If that’s not a major hint of a twisted and unethical personality, I don’t know what is. This response is being written by someone who knows all these people- not by anyone involved, so get your facts straight Mr. Alfred the Great! So Get back to work! The county employees that surround you may report you for using the Internet during work hours!

  • Wongdoings says:

    Mark, you pride yourself in being so smart, and you went to law school. How could you be so stupid as to be manipulated by someone you clearly felt so superior over. And these pen names are ridiculous. The unifying theme of “McNeil and Stephens are innocent” and of innocent people being subjected to “contempt and scorn” of their coworkers makes it obvious who is posting. You know all of what we’ve read about Stephens? “Andrew Stephens was not available for comment.”

  • Floyd Morgan says:

    Some elected officials think they are just too high and mighty. As an appraiser in the office in the late 1960’s, I saw the not too subtle management pressures on honest staff, coming from the lackeys of then Assessor Phillip E. Watson, who later was convicted of criminal conduct, as this Assessor probably should be. At that time, the principal appraiser two notches above me was transferred, and his replacement immediately reduced the value on the major bank property that was at issue. Is there something in the drinking water in LA?? I am delighted that I left there in 1971.

    The LA County grand jury obviously is not doing its job.

  • Mike Zannoni says:

    If anyone has ever been caught up in a scandal, I’m sure the one thing he or she most painfully knows is that it has a horrible logic of its own, completely apart any real and specific fault.

    I don’t know the ins and outs of LA County government, but politics, it seems to me, is one big gray area until a public need, often manipulated, swells up to paint something black and white. When the swell is big enough, a few are sacrificed to our outrage (or pure enjoyment) and everything goes right back into that eternally functional gray area, until the next time.

    Yes, I’m a friend of Mark’s. I’m very sorry he is in this position, one that I think any of us could find ourselves in, regardless of what we did or didn’t do, or to what degree, or out of what intention. (I have no idea. I do know he’s a thorougly decent and thoughtful friend, who unfailingly goes out of his way to help people, almost anyone in need.)

    The relative comfort of being one of the mass of spectators gives the false assurance that it could never be you. But it, all too easily, given the right circumstances, could be any of us. I fear for the person who thinks otherwise.