The long-running public corruption investigation into Assessor John Noguez, who runs the L.A. County Assessor’s Office, has culminated in the arrests of Noguez, his head appraiser and a tax consultant for allegedly conspiring to lower tax assessments for expensive commercial and residential properties in exchange for cash and contributions to Noguez’ re-election coffers.
L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley announced the arrests and said “Los Angeles County voters and taxpayers deserve honest, hardworking elected and appointed officials who will serve the best interests of the people. Residents must have confidence that their government is not for sale to the highest bidder or the highest briber.”
If the allegations are found to be true, the people of Los Angeles will have been robbed of millions of dollars in lawfully owed property taxes.
The charges are as follows:
- John Noguez, 47, (real name: Juan Renaldo Rodriguez): 24 felony counts, including four counts of accepting bribes; five counts of perjury, two counts of conspiracy; and 13 counts of misappropriation by a public officer; he is being held on $1.385 million bail.
- Mark McNeil, 54, head of the Major Appraisal Division; held on $1.16 million bail.
- Ramin Salari, 49, a tax consultant and campaign contributor to Noguez; held on $1.36 million bail.
Among other criminal acts, Noguez is accused of taking $185,000 in bribes from Salari between February and September, 2010. Soon thereafter, chief appraiser McNeil attended hearings and reduced the assessed value of properties located in Santa Monica, Hermosa Beach, Torrance and Los Angeles, including the Old Spaghetti Factory.
An L.A. County appraiser for the Westside named Scott Schenter, who worked in the Assessor’s Office from 1988 to 2011, has previously been charged with cutting values on expensive businesses, homes and condominiums in Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades, allegedly receiving campaign contributions for Noguez from the property owners.
I sincerely hope that DA Steve Cooley will pursue recovering back taxes, including interest and penalties, from the property owners, as well as re-assessing their properties to market values.
Santos H. Kreimann is acting as Chief Deputy Assessor and running the Assessor’s Office now that John Noguez is out of the picture.
This public corruption case will be prosecuted by Deputy District Attorneys Susan Schwartz and Michele Gilmer.
Read the original article in WeHo News.