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County Assessor John Noguez takes leave of absence

Posted: June 1, 2012 4:07 p.m.
Updated: June 1, 2012 4:07 p.m.

Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez announced today he will take a leave of absence from his job.

"In the interest of restoring public confidence in the professionalism, integrity and impartiality of the Assessor's Office, I intend to take a leave of absence from my duties as assessor," Noguez wrote in a letter to the Board of Supervisors.

"I do not take this decision lightly. It is my sincere hope that the leave of absence will allow the Assessor's Office to adhere to its mission during this important time."

Noguez fell under suspicion after a former Los Angeles County appraiser, Scott Schenter, was accused of unlawfully lowering property values by more than $170 million while he worked for the assessor's office from 1988 to 2011.

Authorities say he secured campaign contributions for Noguez from the owners of multimillion-dollar homes and businesses.

Schenter pleaded not guilty today to 60 felony counts of falsifying records and unlawfully lowering property values.

District Attorney Steve Cooley said he doesn't believe Schenter's actions were isolated, and the investigation is ongoing. Cooley's investigators searched Noguez's home and office recently.

Noguez has denied any wrongdoing.

The arrest of Schenter was part of an investigation launched last year by Cooley's public integrity unit into allegations that property values had been reduced for wealthy clients of Ramin Salari, a tax consultant and campaign contributor to Noguez.

"The magnitude of Schenter's suspected betrayal of public trust is almost inconceivable," Cooley said in a statement.

During the absence of the county assessor, a chief deputy assessor will be in charge. However, because that position is currently vacant, Noguez has asked county supervisors to recommend an individual for the post.

"This action, and the appointment of an interim director to manage daily operations and functions, begins the process of restoring the public's confidence and trust in the office," Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said of Noguez's leave of absence.




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