Assessor John Noguez steps aside amid corruption probe
Embattled Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez has stepped aside as the result of a wide-ranging probe of influence peddling at his office.
Noguez and his top aides are at the center of a Los Angeles district attorney investigation into whether they lowered property taxes for prominent contributors to Noguez’s successful 2010 campaign.
"John Noguez is doing the noble thing today,” said his attorney, Michael Proctor. “He cares about the people and purpose of the office, and is doing this to allow the professionals there to do their jobs without distraction."
Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich issued a statement saying that Noguez was taking a leave from his position.
"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," Antonovich said.
Scott Schenter, a former Los Angeles County appraiser, was arrested on May 21 and charged with falsifying records and unlawfully lowering property values by $172 million. Schenter, 49, pleaded not guilty last week to all 60 felony counts.
Schenter told The Times that he secretly and improperly lowered property values to reduce the wealthy owners' tax bills. He said he did it in the hope that they would donate to Noguez.
Schenter also said Noguez offered him a promotion and, along with several top aides, had pressured him to raise campaign funds.
-- Jack Dolan
Photo: The Los Angeles County district attorney's Bureau of Investigation served a search warrant at the offices of the Los Angeles county assessor in Culver City in April. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times