New charges against LA Assessor John Noguez, 2 defendants


Prosecutors filed 11 additional counts of misappropriating public funds against Noguez, but dropped five earlier charges, leaving him with a total of 30 criminal counts.

Noguez was arrested last October on charges of lowering property tax assessments for campaign contributors. Prosecutors say that since Noguez's arrest, they uncovered more evidence that he and two co-defendants bilked tax payers.

"We've alleged that the profits may have been as much as $9.8 million," said prosecutor Susan Schwartz.

Ramin Salari, a tax consultant, is charged with 59 felony charges, and Mark McNeil, a deputy to the county assessor, is charged with 20 counts.

In addition, the defendants were served with a temporary restraining order. The order freezes assets, and it's a long list. If convicted, cars, cash and properties may be seized to pay back taxpayers.

The new charges stem from a deeper search of records. The assessor allegedly reduced the value of 18 properties so the property owners would pay less tax. The prosecutors portrayed Salari as the kingpin in a scheme that started in 1998.

"This has turned out to be a very deep iceberg," Schwartz said.

Salari's attorney said in a statement, "In each instance, the property tax reductions were granted by the assessment appeals board, which is an independent 3-judge panel appointed by the Board of Supervisors to review property tax reduction requests."

Yet the prosecutor says she is not finished yet.

"Our investigation is continuing," Schwartz said. "All I can tell you at this point is that no one is above the law."

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