Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez was arrested October 17, along with his chief appraiser and an Arizona tax consultant who contributed to the assessor's political campaigns, on charges that he conspired to improperly reduce property assessments for clients of the campaign contributor.
Assessor Noguez, who has been on paid leave during the Los Angeles district attorney's investigation, faces charges of conspiracy, bribery and corruption. Appraiser Mark McNeil and tax consultant Ramin Salari each were charged with conspiracy and misappropriation of public funds.
District Attorney Steve Cooley said this is the most significant case of public corruption he has seen during his four-decade career in the District Attorney's Office. "Instead of acting in the best interest of the citizens of Los Angeles County, he turned his back on them," Mr. Cooley said.
Mr. Cooley said the investigation is ongoing, and there may be additional arrests, but did not comment when asked by a reporter whether owners of the affect properties knew of the alleged conspiracy. The district attorney also said the investigation revealed that the assessor's real name is Juan Renaldo Rodriguez.
The assessor's defense attorney said the district attorney was engaged in a one-sided investigation aimed at "getting" his client.
Assessor Noguez (Rodriguez) pleaded not guilty at an October 18 court appearance. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba refused defense requests to lower his bail, saying the allegations represent an extreme abuse of public trust. Bail was set at $1.38 million. (Sources: The Sacramento Bee, October 17; Los Angeles Daily News, October 19.)
October 19, 2012
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