County to keep paying jailed assessor’s $197,000 salary – for now
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday to discuss the fate of Assessor John Noguez, but did not remove him from office and will allow him to continue receiving his $197,000 salary while he's in jail.
Noguez has been in jail since mid-October. He is charged with taking $185,000 in bribes from a tax consultant — and campaign fundraiser — to lower property taxes for his clients.
Noguez, who was elected assessor in 2010, has not worked since June, when he placed himself on paid leave of absence to concentrate on preparing a legal defense to the corruption allegations swirling around him.
While on leave, he got a cost-of-living raise in July, boosting his annual salary from $192,000 to $197,000.
Elected officials in California typically can't be removed from office unless they are convicted of a job-related crime or voted out in a recall. On Tuesday, the supervisors considered invoking a rarely used provision that would have allowed them to remove Noguez for failing to perform his duties for three consecutive months.
After the closed session, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said, "My personal feeling is he has not abandoned his job by virtue of choice — he's been incarcerated for allegations of corruption and until a court of law convicts him of a crime, he's still the assessor of Los Angeles County."
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said the board will continue consulting with attorneys regarding options, but he did not expect any "concrete response" until the new year.
Noguez has been unable to make his $1.16-million bail. He must prove that any money he uses for his defense was not obtained through criminal means.
-- Jack Dolan and Abby Sewell
Photo: Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez is taken into custody by investigators with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office on Oct. 17, following a yearlong influence–peddling investigation. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times