Assessor ‘driven from office’ unfairly, attorney says
The attorney for a tax consultant whose clients dominate the list of property owners who received improper tax breaks from the Los Angeles County assessor's office said it's a "shame" that John Noguez has stepped aside.
Noguez and his office have been the focus of an influence-peddling investigation since more than 100 property owners received inappropriate tax breaks. Noguez sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors on Friday announcing his decision to take a leave of absence.
He said he was stepping aside "in the interest of restoring public confidence in the professionalism, integrity and impartiality of the assessor's office."
On Friday, Mark Werksman, the attorney for tax consultant Ramin Salari, who is also under investigation, said: "It's a shame he's been driven from office before any evidence has been presented before a legal tribunal, demonstrating that he did anything wrong."
He added: "But I understand because of the district attorney's public pronouncements and the incessant press coverage of this matter, he would find it impossible to effectively function in his position."
He said Noguez's decision has no bearing on Salari, who has done nothing wrong.
Many of Salari's tax clients received dramatic reductions on their property tax bills. Salari and his clients were generous contributors to Noguez's election campaign.
Salari's clients dominated the list of property owners who received improper tax breaks from Scott Schenter, a former assessor's office employee who was arrested on fraud charges last month. Salari has denied any wrongdoing.
-- Jack Dolan and Ruben Vives
Photo: Tax agent Ramin Salari appears before the Los Angeles County Assessment Appeals Board during a meeting in February. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times