Bail Reduced Slightly For LA County Assessor John Noguez

LA County Assessor John Noguez and a tax consultant accused of bribing him to have taxes lowered on his clients' properties had their bails slightly reduced on Monday, but likely not enough for the elected official to get out of jail.

John Noguez and Ramin Salari were in jail in lieu of nearly $1.4 million bail.

Their attorneys asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba to lower their bails, and the judge agreed -- but she only lowered it to $1.16 million.

"It still boils down to the same issue ... the abuse of trust," Torrealba said.

The judge said she believed the amount of loss to taxpayers was relevant in calculating fair bail and that the "systematic abuse of public trust" raised public safety concerns, despite arguments to the contrary by defense attorneys.

Noguez attorney Michael Proctor said his client would not be able to post bail of that amount.
While prosecutors and Salari's attorney, Mark Werksman, said they still need to work out details, it appeared that Salari would be able to post bail.

A third defendant in the case, Mark McNeil, 54, was released Wednesday afternoon on $1.1 million bail and is due in court for arraignment Nov. 7.

They were arrested Oct. 17 in connection with what investigators described as an "elaborate and complex conspiracy" that involved favorable tax assessments to wealthy campaign contributors.

Noguez’s attorney, Michael J. Proctor, said the investigation was "aimed at 'getting' Mr. Noguez," and not a search for the truth.

Noguez faces 24 felony counts, including four counts of accepting bribes; five counts of perjury, two counts of conspiracy; and 13 counts of misappropriation by a public officer. He is on leave from his post as assessor.

Salari is charged with 23 felony counts, including eight count of bribing an executive officer; two counts of conspiracy; and 13 counts of misappropriation. Salari also is charged with four counts of paying appraiser Scott Schenter $100,000 in bribes.

Schenter, 49, was charged in a separate complaint. He was arrested May 21 in Beaverton, Ore.

Prosecutors said the loss to taxpayers was $1.16 million.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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