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County Assessor John Noguez Faces 11 New Criminal Charges

Prosecutors Wednesday charged Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez with 11 additional counts of misappropriating public funds by allegedly lowering property tax bills for campaign contributors, bringing to 30 the number of felony charges against him.

The charges come about 1 1/2 months after Noguez, 48, was released from jail on $1.16 million bail, where he had been held since his Oct. 17 arrest.

Noguez is now charged with 19 counts of misappropriation of public funds, five counts of perjury by declaration, four counts of accepting a bribe and two counts of conspiracy.

Prosecutors also filed 41 new counts — including misappropriation of public funds, bribing an executive officer, embezzlement by a public or private officer and grand theft of personal property — against Noguez’s co-defendant, tax consultant Ramin Salari, 50, who is now facing 59 counts.

Principal assessor Mark McNeil, 55, was charged with 11 new counts of misappropriation of public funds, bringing to 20 the total number of charges against him.

The District Attorney’s Office dismissed five counts of misappropriation of public funds that had been filed earlier against the three, who were initially charged last October.

Outside court, Deputy District Attorney Susan Schwartz said the new charges involve an alleged loss of nearly $10 million in taxpayer money involving 18 properties for which taxes were allegedly reduced illegally and dating back as far as 1998. She said the investigation was continuing.

The three defendants are free on bail while awaiting a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require them to stand trial. A date is scheduled to be set June 26 for that hearing.

Also awaiting a preliminary hearing in a separate case is a former county appraiser, Scott Schenter, who was arrested in May 2012 in connection with corruption allegations and was the first to be charged.