L.A. County Assessor, Charged in Bribery Scandal, Is Keeping His Job and Salary

Thursday, October 18, 2012
John Noguez

Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez, arrested Wednesday in an alleged bribery scheme that resulted in large property tax reductions for wealthy campaign contributors, will continue to receive his $192,000-a-year salary while waiting to see the outcome of his trial.

Since Noguez is an elected official, only a felony conviction, a recall or the end of his term in 2014 allows for his removal from office. He was elected in 2010 and has been on voluntary paid leave since June. But it’s been nearly a year since employees in the assessor’s office began complaining about special treatment for a selected few and newspaper reports put him at the heart of the growing scandal.   

Noguez and three associates are accused of accepting bribes from tax consultant Ramin Salari in exchange for lower assessments on private and commercial properties. For now, officials are saying the scheme cost the city $1.2 million in tax revenues and put $185,000 in Noguez’s pocket.

Salari was arrested along with Mark McNeil, a staff member in the assessor’s office. A fourth man, county appraiser Scott Schenter, was arrested in May and accused of taking $100,000 from Salari in exchange for lowering assessments. Many of the properties were on the Westside and could number in the hundreds.

The 32-count indictment includes allegations of bribery, embezzlement, perjury and conspiracy to misappropriate funds. Noguez is looking at 30 years in state prison if convicted. Salari could get 29 years and McNeil 20. Each of the three are being held on more than a million-dollar bail.

Officials from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office raided Noguez’s home in April, carting away boxes of material, while at least 10 investigators searched Salari’s home in the Phoenix area. Noguez took his voluntary leave two months later.

The announcement of the arrests was made by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and his chief deputy district attorney, Jackie Lacey, who is running in a tight race to see who replaces Cooley on November 6.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

L.A. County Assessor Arrested in Bribery Case (by Jack Dolan, Ruben Vives and Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County Assessor Arrested for Corruption (by Linda Deutsch, Associated Press)

Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez Arrested (by Christina Villacorte and Brian Charles, San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

New Details Emerge in L.A. Assessor Corruption Probe (by Jack Dolan, Ruben Vives and Jason Song, Los Angeles Times)

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