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Assessor John Noguez continues to receive support, attorney says

November 3, 2012 |  2:12 pm

The attorney for embattled Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez said his client continues to enjoy support from the community since he was charged last month in a sweeping corruption case for allegedly reducing property assessments in exchange for cash.

"John Noguez has had many expressions of support from a wide variety of sectors of the community," Michael Proctor, Noguez’s attorney, said in an email to The Times.

An email sent Friday afternoon from Noguez’s personal account — signed by “Friends of John Noguez” — asked for contributions to the assessor’s legal fund so he can make bail.

“As you may know, our friend John Noguez is in trouble and needs our support more than ever,” the email said. “You can help John by making a donation today to help him make bail.”

Below was a link to a private website where donations could be made via credit card to Noguez’s legal fund. There were also instructions on how to send a check.

Proctor declined to answer specific questions regarding the email sent from Noguez’s personal account, except to say that "the only person who speaks officially for John, however, is me.  No one else."

Noguez and tax consultant Ramin Salari were arrested last month on dozens of corruption, 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.

On Oct. 23, a judge refused to reduce Noguez's bail below $1.16 million, the amount the county allegedly lost in tax revenue because of the scheme.

The “Friends of John Noguez” email complained about the district attorney’s treatment of Noguez, and his “outrageous and unfair bail amount.”

“John deserves an opportunity to tell his side of the story,” the email said. “Yet John has been in solitary confinement for two weeks, isolated, and unable to have visitors.”

The email was forwarded to The Times by a source. The source asked to remain anonymous because of his friendship with Noguez embattled assessor.

Noguez and Salari have denied any wrongdoing through their attorneys.

News of the fundraiser was first reported in the Los Cerritos News.

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-- Sam Allen

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