Bail Lowered for County Assessor Charged With Corruption [UPDATE]
Noguez was arrested last Wednesday after allegedly accepting bribes and campaign contributions as part of a larger conspiracy to reduce assessed property values.]
Noguez, who was elected in November 2010, was taken into custody this morning by the District Attorney's investigators along with Ramin Salari, a tax consultant, and Mark McNeil, head of the office's Major Appraisal Division.
The complaint filed by the District Attorney's office alleges that Noguez accepted $185,000 in bribes from Salari between February and September 2010 along with a list of properties held by Salari's clients. McNeil then reduced the values of properties on the list - such as the Old Spaghetti Factory and other properties in Santa Monica and Hermosa Beach - in order to lower the tax assessment on the properties.
Noguez allegedly told appraiser Scott Schenter that the office must “take care of our buddy Ramin,” and, “We have to take care of our donors.”
Salari's clients received significant "tax breaks, ranging in some cases to $150,000 or more per piece of property,'' said District Attorney Steve Cooley.
Cooley said the arrests are part of a larger investigation into corruption at the L.A. County Assessor's Office.
"Los Angeles County voters and taxpayers deserve honest, hardworking elected and appointed officials who will serve the best interests of the people,” said Cooley. “Residents must have confidence that their government is not for sale to the highest bidder or the highest briber.”
All three men are being held on bail in excess of $1 million; each faces a laundry list of charges. Noguez is charged with 24 felony counts, including four counts of accepting bribes and five counts of perjury, and faces up to 30 years in prison.
Salari is charged with 23 felony counts, including eight counts of bribing an executive officer, and faces up to 29 years in prison. McNeil is charged with 14 felony counts, including one count of conspiracy and 13 counts of misappropriation by a public officer, and faces more than 20 years in prison.