L.A. County Assessor Arrested in Bribery Case
About six months before John Noguez was elected Los Angeles County assessor, he received an $80,000 check from his old friend and prominent property tax consultant, Ramin Salari. Over the next few months, Salari cut Noguez two more checks, for a total of $180,000.
In return, authorities say, assessor officials began giving tax breaks to many of Salari's clients.
Prosecutors on Wednesday alleged that the payments to Noguez — and an additional $100,000 given to a lower-level assessor's official — were bribes to illegally reduce the values of properties so that Salari's clients would pay less in taxes. The alleged scam deprived the county of at least $1.16 million in tax revenue, according to prosecutors.
Noguez, Salari and a top executive in the assessor's office, Mark McNeil, were arrested and charged with conspiracy and misappropriation of public funds following a yearlong influence peddling investigation that has roiled the office responsible for determining property taxes on more than 2 million homes and businesses.
In addition, Noguez and Salari are charged with bribery and Noguez is charged with perjury.
Prosecutors began probing the case last year. In April, investigators served a search warrant at Noguez's Huntington Park home and found what they characterized as a list from Salari of 18 properties whose values he wanted reduced. The assessor's office made good on nearly all of Salari's requests, prosecutors said.
Noguez and Salari described the alleged bribes as loans, according to prosecutors, who noted that ...