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Major pain in the assessor's office: Investigators serve warrants at 12 locations



Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez
Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez
Photo by John Noguez via Flickr Creative Commons

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If corruption is the black mold of our government houses, then the L.A. district attorney's office is storming the city like a masked remediation team this morning.

Early Wednesday, officials served warrants at the home of Los Angeles County assessor John Noguez, and 11 other locations, as a part of an expansive, information-gathering investigation into property tax reductions and campaign contributions, reports the L.A. Times.

Head of the district attorney’s public integrity unit, Dave Demerjian, said no arrests were expected in today's raid.

Several local offices are under scrutiny, as well as two Internet service providers, and businessman Ramin Salari, a campaign contributor and friend to Noguez who reportedly secured substantial tax reductions for commercial and residential property owners.

Last week, a former county appraiser who secretly and improperly slashed tens of millions of dollars from the taxable values of Westside properties in late 2010 told The Times he did it in the hope that wealthy homeowners receiving the reductions would contribute money to Noguez.

Scott Schenter, the former employee at the center of a criminal investigation roiling the assessor's office, said Noguez had promised him a promotion in the summer of 2010 in the midst of Noguez's successful election campaign.

Schenter, who resigned in January 2011 after it was discovered he had reduced without explanation or authorization the the taxable value of 151 Westside properties, also told The Times in an interview that he was pressured to raise money and find campaign contributors.

Last week, a spokesman for Noguez said he was not available for an interview because he was in Mexico mourning the death of his father.

 

Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner