We all knew Harvey Levin's TMZ pays people to leak information to them, as recently fired L.A. County Superior Court spokesman has been accused of doing. But their real secret? Just plant a staffer on the courthouse payroll. [Update below]

That's basically what the site did with TMZ senior producer Vania Stuelp, according to this Los Angeles Times story on accusations that court spokesman Allan Parachini was feeding tips to TMZ. Parachini was fired this week. But who needs to buy off the courthouse spokesman when his deputy is basically a TMZ staffer?

TMZ became the dominant source of celebrity legal news during Parachini's tenure, but whispers about collusion grew loud in 2008, when he hired Vania Stuelp, a former TMZ reporter, as his deputy. Stuelp returned to TMZ earlier this year after losing her court job in a round of budget-related layoffs.

So that's how they do it.

Update: TMZ's attorney, Jason Beckerman, contacted us this evening to say that the allegations are "absolutely false."