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County Assessor John Noguez to take a leave of office pending investigation [updated]

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The Los Angeles County assessor announced today his intention to take a leave from office while the District Attorney’s Office continues its investigation into allegations of misconduct.

John Noguez will leave office once the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appoints someone to serve as the chief deputy assessor in charge of the office. The issue is expected to be discussed at Wednesday's board meeting at the Hall of Administration. 

“In the interest of restoring public confidence in the professionalism, integrity, and impartiality of the Assessor's Office, I intend to take a leave of absence from my duties as assessor,” Nogeuz wrote in a letter to the Board of Supervisors. “I do not take this decision lightly. Rather, I do this with the solemn hope that my leave of absence will allow the professionals at the Assessor's Office to continue to serve the taxpayers and citizens of this county.”

In his letter, Noguez goes on to say, "To remove any possible concerns relating to my selection of a chief deputy assessor to run the Assessor’s Office in my absence, I ask that the Board of Supervisors recommend a highly qualified person to serve as chief deputy assessor. I ask that the board select that individual without my input. As soon as the board designates that person, I will appoint him or her as chief deputy assessor, and I will immediately commence my leave of absence.

The D.A.'s Office is looking into allegations that assessed property values were improperly lowered for Noguez’s campaign contributors and others. A lower value would have allowed the property owners to pay less in taxes.

A former county appraiser has been charged with 60 felony counts related to allegations he lowered assessed values by $172 milion. Scott Schenter has pleaded not guilty. 

In response to Nogeuz’s decision to leave office, Supervisor Mike Antonovich said, “This action, and the appointment of an interim director to manage daily operations and functions, begins the process of restoring the public’s confidence and trust in the office.”

In recent weeks, both Antonovich and District Attorney Steve Cooley have called on Noguez to step down until the investigation is complete. 

Supervisor Don Knabe released a statement this afternoon, praising Noguez's decision to take a leave. 

"While this investigation is underway, it is critical that stability is maintained for the Assessor’s Office and operations. As such, I am pleased that Mr. Noguez is stepping aside while the D.A. completes this investigation," Knabe said.  

This post has been updated.

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