Amid Torrent of Investigations, Sacramento County Assessor Resigns

Sacramento County Assessor Kathleen Kelleher resigned from office Friday amid three separate investigations into possible wrongdoing by top officials in the Assessor’s Office, including herself. She cited health issues.

The subject of two of the investigations launched on May 8 are undisclosed. The first probe, launched by an outside law firm in January at the behest of the county, is looking into whether she and other top officials in the Assessor’s Office received favorable appraisals that decreased their tax bills.

She faces allegations that a friend on staff lowballed the value of her new pool and that managers in her office received generous appraisals. The Assessor’s Office determines property values in the county for tax collection.

But the probe is delving even deeper into issues of harassment and retaliation.

In a Jan. 13 email, county personnel manager Cori Stillson summarized 50 allegations made by employees against Kelleher’s office, including impropriety, harassment, favoritism and management issues. Employees claim they were wrongly passed over for promotions and endured harassment as they pressed forward with complaints of “illegalities and corruption.”

The law firm is also looking into a property owned by Chief Appraiser Larry Grose and an Orangevale lot upon which a home was developed by a former manager with the Assessor’s Office, William Silva.

Given the context, county officials aren’t buying Kelleher’s claim that health reasons led to her abrupt resignation 19 months before the end of her term.

“I’m very concerned and I want to understand what the hell is going on,” said Supervisor Phil Serna. “To not fulfill your full term is a big deal.”

But Kelleher has denied any wrongdoing. She provided the Sacramento Bee with some documents which she says support her case.

The Sacramento County Assessor’s Office has been investigated more than a dozen times in the past 10 years, according to county spokeswoman Kim Nava. Assistant Assessor Christina Wynn will take over in Kelleher’s absence until the Board appoints a permanent replacement. The county is accepting applications for the position until the end of the week.

For more details on the allegations and ongoing investigations, visit the Sacramento Bee


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