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Elected official took thousands in campaign cash, goods, from Noguez, Salari, while serving stint on Property Appeals Board
By Randy Economy
Montebello City Councilman Jack Hadjinian took more than $5,000 in contributions for his successful campaign in 2011 from embroiled property tax agent Ramin Salari and Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez at the exact same time he served as an appointed member of the Los Angeles County Property Appeals Assessment Board.
David Demerjian, who oversees the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office of Public Integrity, told Los Cerritos Community Newspaper on Monday that a formal investigation into Hadjinian has been launched.
“We have a case opened on Mr. Hadjinian,” said Demerjian. The District Attorney’s Office would not elaborate into their investigation into the councilman.
Salari and Noguez are two of the central figures in a massive criminal probe by law enforcement officials into alleged fraud, bribery and money laundering allegations.
Hadjinian took $5,000 from Salari’s company “Assessment Appeals Services, LLC.” on July 1, 2011 according to documents filed with the California Secretary of State. On that same day, Hadjinian took a $250 donation from Noguez.
Noguez also donated an additional $1,050 to Hadjinian between October 21, and December 31, 2011 for “food and office supplies” according additional reports filed with state election officials.
At the time he collected the political donations, Hadjinian was serving as an “alternate board member” of the property appeals assessment board and did participate in several hearings. Hadjinian works as a professional realtor and previously served as General Manager of NASA Services, a controversial waste hauler also based out of Montebello.
In a written statement to LCCN, Hadjinian contradicted himself about his campaign donations from Salari, but touted his close political and personal relationships with Salari and Noguez.
“Mr. Salari did intend to make a contribution to my city council campaign, but the contribution was never received. In an effort to comply with the FPPC campaign finance disclosure guidelines, I reported every contribution that was committed to my campaign even though his contribution was not used in my campaign,” Hadjanian told LCCN.
In a previously published article by the Whittier Daily News, Hadjinian said he “never saw” Salari’s money because his campaign treasurer at the time was Kinde Durkee, the Democratic Party campaign treasurer who pleaded guilty to defrauding her clients of at least $7 million.
“Mr. Salari as well as other individuals who contributed to my campaign did so because they believed in my leadership abilities and believed I would do a good job serving the public on the Montebello City Council,” Hadjinian said.
Hadjinian and Noguez have become close political and personal allies during the past several years.
Noguez administered the official oath of office to the first term city councilman with hundreds of residents in attendance at Montebello City Hall.
“As for my relationship with Mr. Noguez, I met him years ago through a family member of his. I have kept in touch with him given my involvement in the real estate profession as well as his public service as an elected official,” Hadjinian stated.
“I did not take a position on any cases there were before me as an Assessment Appeals Board member from any contributors to my campaign. I resigned from my appointment shortly after my election to focus on my family and my duties as a newly elected council member,” Hadjinian said.
Copyright Los Cerritos Community News, use by attribution only
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