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L.A. County assessor denied bail reduction

November 14, 2012 |  5:01 pm

Jailed Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez was denied bail on Wednesday because the judge said he remains a flight risk with a lot to lose.

Noguez has been in the county's Men's Central Jail since mid-October after his arrest for allegedly taking $185,000 in bribes from a prominent tax consultant in exchange for lowering property taxes for Westside residents and business owners.

Noguez's attorney, Michael Proctor, argued that Noguez is a man of "modest means" who cannot make the $1.16-million bail.  Noguez could free himself if the bail were reduced to $400,000, Proctor said.

"If he were released, I'm not certain he would return. He has a lot more to lose," said Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba. "That is not a chance this court is willing to take."

Ramin Salari, the tax consultant accused of bribing Noguez, who was also arrested on Oct. 17, posted more than $1-million bail after a few days and has been free ever since.  Mark McNeil, one of Noguez's top deputies at the assessor's office who was also arrested, quickly posted a similar amount of bail.

Noguez is on leave from his elected office, but he is still drawing his $197,000-per-year county salary.

Arguing against lower bail, Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Schwartz said Noguez doesn't have "clean money untainted by criminality" that he could use.  She pointed out that any funds Noguez offers to the court would be subject to investigation, which, in turn, could "possibly expose more criminality."

The court froze Noguez's assets, about $50,000, immediately after his arrest.

Noguez's next court appearance was set for Jan. 22.

-- Jack Dolan