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Bail reduced for ex-county appraiser in criminal probe

Scott Schenter's bail reducedA Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Wednesday reduced the bail amount for Scott Schenter, a former county appraiser accused of falsifying documents and unlawfully lowering property values by $172 million on multimillion-dollar homes and businesses.

Schenter's bail was reduced from $1.5 million to $100,000. Schenter was arrested in May and is facing 60 felony counts for falsifying records; he is at the center of a criminal probe involving the L.A. County Assessor's Office.

Dressed in blue prison clothes, he sat quietly with his head down as the judge made the ruling. John Powers, the public defender who is representing Schenter, said his client may not make bail this week.

Schenter, 49, secured campaign contributions from the owners for Assessor John Noguez, authorities say. He resigned in lieu of termination in January 2011 after a supervisor discovered his alleged misconduct.

Schenter told The Times in April that he secretly and improperly lowered property values to reduce the owners’ tax bills. He said he did it in the hope that the wealthy property owners would donate to Noguez.

Schenter claimed Noguez offered him a promotion and, along with several top aides, had applied “brutal” pressure to raise campaign funds. Noguez has denied offering Schenter a promotion, instructing him to lower the values of the Westside properties or asking him to approach the owners for contributions.

Noguez acknowledged he asked Schenter to “check the status” of some of the properties and admitted to asking Schenter to help raise money for his campaign. Noguez is on temporary paid leave as the investigation continues. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Los Angeles County District Atty. Steve Cooley identified Noguez as a primary target of the broader influence-peddling investigation, which began last year. Also under scrutiny are several high-ranking assessor's office employees and Noguez campaign contributors, including tax consultant Ramin Salari.

Salari’s clients dominated the list of property owners who received improper tax breaks from Schenter. Salari has denied any wrongdoing. Schenter's next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 16.


-- Ruben Vives

Photo: Scott Schenter booking photo. Credit: Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

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