Ex-Appraiser Arrested in Assessor Probe

As the investigation heats up into allegations of corruption against County Assessor John Noguez and his associates, prosecutors say they have charged a former appraiser.

A former county tax appraiser was arrested Monday for soliciting money from associates of Assessor John Noguez in exchange for reducing their tax bills, District Attorney Steve Cooley said Monday.

Scott Schenter, 49, was arrested in Beaverton, Ore., Cooley said in a press release, and is being held on $1.5 million bail.

“The magnitude of Schenter’s suspected betrayal of public trust is almost inconceivable,” Cooley said in a prepared statement. “We believe his actions are not isolated.”

Just last week, Cooley called on Noguez to resign, saying the investigation was widening.

Noguez, who has maintained his innocence throughout, has been under scrutiny since last year, when prosecutors started looking into allegations that he reduced the tax bills of associates and campaign contributors.

The District Attorney's Office of Public Integrity has said that it is specifically looking at whether Noguez and his staff reduced property values for clients of Ramin Salaru, a tax consultant and campaign contributor. 

Schenter's arrest is the first in the case. The former appraiser is charged with 30 felony counts of falsifying records and 30 counts of falsifying accounts.

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court under laws designed to fight corruption among public officials, accuses Schenter of falsifying county records during the period from Oct. 12, 2010 through Jan. 3, 2011.

"Schenter, who worked from 1988 to early 2011 as a county appraiser, allegedly slashed values on multi-million dollar homes, condos and businesses in Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades," Cooley said in the press release. "Schenter allegedly secured campaign contributions from the owners of those homes and business for Assessor John Noguez."

Schenter had not yet been arraigned by Monday afternoon. If convicted, he faces up to 33 years in prison.

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