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L.A. Now Live: Latest on assessor corruption probe

May 4, 2012 |  5:57 am

Times reporter Jack Dolan will join City Editor Shelby Grad for the latest on corruption allegations at the Los Angeles County assessor's office.

The live chat will take place at 9 a.m. PDT.

In the latest story, Dolan and staff writer Ruben Vives reported on a former Hollywood landmark: the Old Spaghetti Factory on Sunset Boulevard.

Last summer, Ramin Salari, a property tax consultant and campaign fundraiser for county Assessor John Noguez, lobbied to reduce the shuttered restaurant's tax bill because, he said, the land it sat on wasn't worth the $14 million his clients had paid for it. He convinced Noguez's staff to assess the shuttered eatery, and four smaller parcels nearby, for $7.2 million.

A month after Salari won the last of several six-figure tax refunds based on the lower value, the property owners sold the lots for $21 million, nearly three times the value set by Noguez's staff, according to records reviewed by The Times.

As part of a wide-ranging corruption probe prompted by complaints from assessor's office employees, investigators from the Los Angeles County district attorney's office executed a search warrant last week at Salari's Phoenix home. They also searched Noguez's Huntington Park home and assessor's offices across Los Angeles County.