John Noguez

In one of its highest-profile prosecutions of an elected official, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has charged the County Assessor, John Noguez, with accepting bribes in exchange for lowering the assessed value of certain properties, thereby saving the owners millions of dollars in property taxes.

The investigation began in 2011 after an appraiser at the Assessor’s office noticed discrepancies in property assessments of certain properties.  In April 2012, DA investigators served search warrants on the homes of Noguez and others.  The following month, a county appraiser, Scott Schenter, was arrested for lowering assessed values in exchange for contributions to Noguez’s campaign.

In October 2012, the Los Angeles County District Attorney filed 24 felony charges against Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez.  The complaint included 13 counts of misappropriation by a public officer (Penal Code § 424(a)), 5 counts of perjury by declaration (Penal Code § 118(a)), four counts of accepting bribes (Penal Cod § 68), and two of conspiracy (Penal Code 182(a)(1)).

Noguez was simultanously arrested, along with Mark McNeil, who headed the Major Appraisal Division, and Ramin Salari, a tax consultant.  McNeil was charged with 13 counts of misappropriation by a public officer, and one count of conspiracy; Salari was charged with 13 counts of missappropriation, eight counts of bribing an executive officer (PC 67) and two counts of conspiracy.

According to the criminal complaint, Noguez accepted $185,000 in bribes, in exchange for reducing the assessed value on numerous properties.  Public funds were allegedly misappropriated by the granting of improper property tax refunds, which had been procured through bribery.

The case and investigation continue; as of June 2013, there had been no convictions in the matter.

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