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Haroon Claims Assessor Noguez Has Collected $553,000 While on ‘Paid Leave’

The Office of Los Angeles County Assessor John R. Noguez at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration in mid 2012.  Photo by Randy Economy

The Office of Los Angeles County Assessor John R. Noguez at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration in mid 2012. Photo by Randy Economy

 

Mon May 5, 2014, 2:17 p.m.

By Brian Hews and Brian Hews

Omar Haroon, a candidate for Los Angeles County Assessor is claiming that indicted Assessor John R. Noguez has collected more than $550,000 in payments since he went on a paid leave of absence after being arrested and charged with dozens of felony counts of accepting bribes in exchange for lowering property values from campaign contributors.

On Monday, Haroon fired off a demand letter the to Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors asking them to resume its inquiry into whether Noguez should be removed as Los Angeles County Assessor.

See letter click here.

Haroon told Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper in a statement that Noguez has retained all of his salary and  benefits, including medical and retirement payments, since June of 2012 despite being on a voluntary leave of absence while the district attorney investigates allegations of influence-peddling, bribery, and misappropriation of funds.

Noguez was arrested in October 2012 on 24 felony charges and was incarcerated for over four months at Men’s Central Jail in Downtown LA.

Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper was the first newspaper to report on the details of the alleged scheme involving Noguez and millionaire property consultant Ramin Salari.

Booking pic....

Los Angeles County Assessor John R. Noguez Booking Photo.

Haroon said that he is also asking that the Board determine whether Noguez should continue to receive his substantial salary and benefits if it is determined that he has vacated his post.

“Mr. Noguez has already collected an estimated $553,000 in salary and benefits during his ‘paid leave,’ and that number will balloon to over $722,000 by December of this year if he remains in office,” Haroon said.

“Of course, this amount does not include the $185,000 in bribes that Mr. Noguez is alleged to have pocketed in exchange for unlawfully reducing the property taxes on numerous commercial properties, or the millions of dollars in lost revenues that these deductions are alleged to have cost the County,” Haroon said.

“Nor does it include the immense damage caused by the Assessor’s April 2012 assessment forecast, which involved an unprecedented net decrease of $13.5 billion from the December 2011 property value estimate, prompting this Board to order a thorough (and costly) audit and overhaul of procedures, methodologies, and oversight of the Assessor’s office,” Haroon stressed.

The letter was sent to all five members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor including Chairman Don Knabe who is a former Mayor of Cerritos.

“It is my understanding that the Board has not revisited the issues of Mr. Noguez’s removal from office and entitlement to an indefinite paid leave since meeting in closed session on December 18, 2012 and advising the press that it needed further input from counsel before reaching a decision,” Haroon contents.

Controversial e-mails between Noguez and Salari to be released by Los Cerritos Community Newspaper on Friday

Los Cerritos Community Newspaper will be publishing hundreds of internal emails between embattled Los Angeles County Assessor John R. Noguez and controversial Arizona tax agent Ramin Salari, said Brian Hews, Publisher and Owner of Hews Media Group.

“I do not know whether any such legal counsel was obtained, but over the past weeks I have taken it upon myself to retain counsel to review these issues at my own expense,” Haroon continues in his eight-page letter to the county officials.

“Based on the research conducted to this point, I am confident that there are strong legal arguments in favor of officially removing Mr. Noguez from office and suspending his pay and I ask you to take a close look at these and any other legal bases for stripping Mr. Noguez of his title, compensation, and benefits,” Haroon said.

“Perhaps more significantly, from an ethical standpoint, I urge this Board to take a stand now to demonstrate to the residents of Los Angeles County that such behavior by a public official will not be tolerated,” Haroon said.

“If Noguez’s term in office is permitted to expires of its own accord after the November 2014 elections, the unequivocal message sent to the voters will be that an elected officer who has been charged with dozens of felony counts including grand theft, embezzlement, bribery, and perjury, and who has not served in his role for more than two years, can quietly finish his term without being subjected to any official censure,” Haroon said.

Haroon also said: “As someone running for the position now held by Mr. Noguez and as a taxpayer whose tax dollars have been diverted to finance his continuing salary and benefits (while also paying for someone else to do his job), I believe that the Board of Supervisors should move proactively to ensure that Mr. Nogeuz’s tenure in office lacks a happy ending.”

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