L.A. County Assessor John Noguez can't make bail, stays in jail
Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez, who has spent the last six days in jail after his arrest on suspicion of taking bribes to lower property tax bills, will stay behind bars a while longer.
On Monday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba refused to reduce Noguez's bail below $1.16 million -- the amount the county allegedly lost in tax revenue due to the scheme, prosecutors claim.
Noguez's attorney, Michael Proctor, said Noguez would not be able to make that bail. He had asked Torrealba to consider a bail of about $400,000.
Torrealba also set bail at $1.16 million for Ramin Salari, a tax consultant accused of bribing Noguez to lower property taxes for his wealthy clients. Salari is expected to put up the money and be released, said his attorney, Mark Werksman.
Investigators are still poring over tax reductions granted by Noguez during his brief tenure as assessor, which began after his election in November 2010.
"There were other losses, other properties," Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Schwartz told the judge Monday. "This is just the tip of the iceberg."
Noguez and Salari were arrested last week on dozens of corruption charges, including bribery and misappropriation of public funds. Prosecutors allege that Noguez took $185,000 in bribes from Salari, who charges his clients a percentage of any tax savings, typically 50%.
Salari is also accused of paying $100,000 in bribes to a lower-level assessor's office employee, Scott Schenter, to illegally reduce property values. Schenter pleaded not guilty to fraud charges in May.
Salari is a multimillionaire, court records show. But since he has to prove that the money he uses for his defense is not tainted by the alleged criminal conspiracy, his mother and sister are putting up their Encino homes as collateral for the bail, Werksman said.
-- Jack Dolan
Photo: Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez is taken into custody by investigators with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office outside his Huntington Park home. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times