L.A. County turns to a previous coroner to run department on interim basis

Los Angeles County supervisors announced Tuesday that a former county coroner will return to head up the Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner on an interim basis, following the abrupt departure of the county's top medical examiner, Mark Fajardo.

Fajardo announced last week that he was going to resign from the Los Angeles office and return to his old job as the chief forensic pathologist in Riverside County.

He had taken over the Los Angeles County coroner's office after his predecessor, Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, retired in 2013. 

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After a closed-door meeting, the county supervisors announced Tuesday that they had voted unanimously to accept Fajardo's resignation and select Sathyavagiswaran as his replacement until a new top medical examiner can be found.

Sathyavagiswaran had been chief medical examiner-coroner since 1992, and also served as director of the department beginning in 2012. When Fajardo was hired, he served in both roles as well.

Fajardo left amid lengthy backlogs in autopsies and toxicology reports and concerns that the department's accreditation could be in jeopardy.

Upon announcing his departure, Fajardo said he had not been given the budget and staffing he needed to run the office properly.

"Ultimately, I wasn’t supplied the resources I need to perform my job duties," he said.

The county's chief executive was directed to negotiate a contract with Sathyavagiswaran, which the board will then vote to approve.

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