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Scott Schenter pleads not guilty to 60 felony counts during Friday court appearance; Granted “special housing” in jail

Scott Schenter turns his back to avoid being photographed at his arraignment Friday afternoon. Photo by Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles Times (Pool)

Scott Schenter turns his back to avoid being photographed at his arraignment Friday afternoon. Photo by Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles Times (Pool)

By Brian Hews

Indicted ex-Los Angeles County Appraiser Scott Schenter has plead not guilty to 60 felony counts of fraud and unlawfully lowering almost 200 high end properties by more than $172 million on Friday afternoon.
Schenter was at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center on West Temple Street in a downtown Los Angeles Superior Court room and spent most of his brief appearance with his back turned to those assembled, including members of the media. Schenter, 49, with his dark brown hair slicked back, only spoke a few words during the first court appearance in front of Superior Court Judge Upinder Kalra.
Schenter was then placed in “special housing” after Kalra approved a special request from prosecutors.
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. Schenter allegedly secured campaign contributions from the owners of those homes and business for his long time ally Assessor John Noguez.
The Venice resident was arrested on Wednesday while he was in Beaverton, Oregon and was brought back to Los Angeles by several law enforcement officers.
According to booking records obtained by Los Cerritos Community Newspaper, the 5’11, 180 pound Schenter was booked at the Crescenta Valley/Altadena Sheriff’s Station and was officially booked on Thursday at 4:14 p.m. As of Friday night, he was still being held in custody with a 1.5 million bail hanging over him.
On Friday, LCCN confirmed with members of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office that “additional arrests” are in the works.
“The magnitude of Schenter’s suspected betrayal of public trust is almost inconceivable,” Cooley said in a prepared statement to Los Cerritos Community Newspaper this week.
“We believe his actions are not isolated.” Schenter’s arrest is part of a massive investigation launched last year by the D.A.’s Public Integrity Division. LCCN has reported that Noguez and several of his staff had reduced property values for wealthy clients of Ramin Salari, a tax consultant and campaign contributor to Noguez.
Hundreds of internal emails between Salari, Noguez and members of the Assessor’s senior staff were released by LCCN last week. The emails document the influence Salari had over Noguez.
Schenter is alleged to have assisted Salari and other well connected property tax agents in successfully securing successful property tax reductions as high as 60% to 70% for multimillion dollars properties throughout Los Angeles County.
Cooley told Los Cerritos Community Newspaper that the case “is the biggest in the 40 years he has been a prosecutor.” No word on when Schenter is going to post bail.
Several of Schenter’s former co-workers told LCCN this week that they are trying to get “as much information as possible” about his arrest. “Everyone is peeled to talk radio, and web sites, and blogs in order to get as many details as we can,” one employee who works for Noguez in the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration told LCCN on the condition that their name not is published.
“We (assessor employees) are all waiting for the hammer to drop,” the source told LCCN.

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