Assessor John Noguez went on leave last week, as he continues to deal with the wide-ranging pay-to-play probe into his office.
His replacement, Santos Kreimann, has wasted little time in cleaning house. In a memo to staff today, Kreimann announced that he has reassigned two of Noguez's top lieutenants: Mark McNeil and Andrew Stephens.
McNeil and Stephens were targeted in the D.A.'s search of the Assessor's Office in late April. Both contributed generously to Noguez's campaigns, and both were promoted to high-level positions when Noguez was elected assessor in 2010.
In the memo to staff, Kreimann said that the pair are being reassigned “to encourage a collegial environment of collaboration and mutual respect.”
McNeil has long been a friend and contributor to Noguez. When McNeil got married last fall in North Carolina, Noguez read a poem at the ceremony. Over the years, McNeil gave $5,500 to Noguez's campaigns for Huntington Park City Council and county assessor.
Stephens gave $7,000 to Noguez's campaigns.
Both were promoted to top positions in the office after the 2010 election. Late last year, McNeil wrote a memo that accused two colleagues of “retaliation” against tax agent Ramin Salari — a friend of Noguez's who is at the heart of the pay-to-play allegations. In the memo, McNeil described Salari as a “known donor and political supporter” of Noguez's.
When the pay-to-play scandal erupted earlier this year, both men were transferred out of the assessor's downtown office. Stephens was put in charge of the East District office in South El Monte, which was a demotion. McNeil was put in charge of the West District office in Culver City.
The assessor's office declined to comment this afternoon on Kreimann's decision to reassign the pair.
“We're no longer commenting on personnel matters,” said spokesman Louis Reyes.
Kreimann, the director of the county's Beaches and Harbors Department, was recommended last week by the Board of Supervisors to assume Noguez's duties while he is on leave.