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Expensive Toys For Needy Kids End Up With Santa Clara County Employees

SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) -- Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone is trying to turn a wrong into a right after toys meant as gifts for disadvantaged kids wound up in the hands of some county employees.

The workers were told they could take them but Stone said it was a mistake.

"I wrote an email to my staff saying this is not right," said Stone.

Dozens of county workers got their hands on expensive electric cars and scooters. The company that makes them donated the toys to the county for low-income families.

"None of this was ever intended to go to County employees," said Steve Preminger, the county's executive assistant.

Preminger insists county workers who got a toy didn't steal from the needy.

It all began as a rumor when the delivery trucks began to arrive.

"The word went out all around the county government center free toys in the parking lot," said Preminger. "And of course employees in the county went down to see. It was a very chaotic scene for a few hours."

But it didn't take long for the county bosses to find out county workers went home with the toys. The question now is what do they do with them?

"There's a policy in my office that we don't accept gifts," said Stone. "I'm the County Assessor, I'm not in favor of free anything."

The assessor told his employees to return the toys to his office -- no questions asked.

County Executive Jeff Smith is in charge of most of those workers. He told them not to return them. Instead the workers were told an dare being trusted to hand them out to the needy.

Still, no one knows for sure exactly how many county workers got a toy.

"I think it's a sad thing that all this is going on because this is such a wonderful gesture," said Preminger.

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