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LA County Assessor John Noguez takes leave of absence

Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez is seen in this undated photo.
June 1, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez announced a voluntary leave of absence Friday.

Noguez's office is under investigation for alleged corruption and influence peddling.

Noguez sent a letter to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors informing them of his decision. His leave will officially commence upon the Supervisors' recommendation and formal appointment of a Chief Deputy Assessor to run the office during his absence, according to the letter.

"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," wrote Noguez in his letter to the Board. "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 has asked the Supervisors to make that recommendation without his input.

Last month L.A. County District Attorney investigators raided the home of Noguez and assessor offices around the county. They carted off boxes of records and potential evidence.

"The decision today by Assessor John Noguez to take a voluntary leave of absence is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, this will help get the Assessor's Office back on track," said District Attorney Steve Cooley Friday. "It will have no impact on the criminal investigation being conducted by this office. The investigation is ongoing, multi-faceted and active."

Last week a former Los Angeles County appraiser, Scott Schenter, was arrested in Oregon and charged in California with falsifying records and unlawfully lowering property tax values by $172 million. Schenter pleaded not guilty.

Also potential targets, according to the D.A., are several high-ranking assessor's office employees and Noguez campaign contributors.

The investigation, which began last year, has focused on millions of dollars in tax breaks allegedly given to Noguez campaign contributors. Noguez and his staff allegedly lowered assessed property values in exchange for campaign contributions.

The County Assessor assesses taxes based on a property's value.


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