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Grand jury hears testimony in county assessor scandal

July 16, 2012 | 12:25 pm

John Noguez

Los Angeles County assessor’s employees and John Noguez campaign contributors have begun testifying before a grand jury Monday as part of a wide-ranging investigation into allegations that Noguez and his staff gave tax breaks to political supporters when he was running the office.

Prosecutors delivered a stack of subpoenas to the assessor’s office last week, sources say, requiring current employees to appear before the panel. One of Noguez’s friends who worked on his successful 2010 campaign for assessor, and subsequently got hired at the assessor’s offices, has already testified. 

The college-aged daughter of a Beverly Hills campaign contributor also appeared before the grand jury last week.

Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley has said his investigators are looking into the possibility that Noguez donors illegally exceeded campaign contribution limits by giving money in family members’ names.

Also summoned before the grand jury last week was Robert Meraz, a friend of Noguez’s who worked on the campaign and then got a job in the assessor’s office handling Noguez’s calendar. Meraz refused to comment when he walked out of the jury room on Wednesday afternoon.

Noguez has been on an indefinite leave of absence since June 1.


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-- Jack Dolan and Ruben Vives

Photo: John Noguez speaks at a county supervisors' meeting in April. Credit: Brian van der Brug