UPDATED AT 10:15 p.m. on Thursday, October 28
By Randy Economy and Brian Hews
Additional felony counts have been filed against Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez and Tax Agent Ramin Salari on Monday in what prosecutors called “a corruption scheme to lower property taxes on favored individuals and businesses.”
Both Noguez and Salari appeared in a Downtown Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday to hear the new charges, and both pleaded not guilty to a dozen new felony counts.
Noguez, 48, and tax consultant Ramin Salari, 50, appeared in court before Judge George Lomeli to set a date for their preliminary hearing when they were arraigned on three new counts each of grand theft and three counts each of embezzlement.
Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper confirmed that the new charges involve include three additional properties in downtown Los Angeles that were appraised at a lower value.
Prosecutors allege that Noguez accepted bribes from Salari to lower property tax assessments for some of Salari’s clients, whose properties were located in Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Pasadena, Marina Del Rey and the South Bay.
Prosecutors allege the new charges show Noguez was working with Salari as far back as March 1996.
In addition, prosecutors with the Public Integrity Division filed a separate case today charging Salari with three counts of felony tax evasion. Salari pleaded not guilty to those charges.
Noguez and Salari and co-defendant Mark McNeil, one of Noguez’ s deputies, all return to court on Jan. 30, 2014, to set a date for their preliminary hearing. The three were arrested in October 2012 and charged with a scheme to trade bribes for lower property tax bills.
“The new charges today bring the total loss to the county at more than $10 million in revenue,” said Jane Robson, a media spokesperson for Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
If convicted, Noguez faces more than 50 years in custody. Salari faces more than 75 years in custody.
Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper was the first news outlet to report on the massive criminal probe back in early 2012.
Anthony Crump, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office said that he had “no comment” when asked about the latest charges lodged against Noguez and Salari. “We have no nothing to say other than we have no comment on the matter,” Crump said.
More details to follow.
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