New Emails Reveal More Alleged "Pay-to-Play" in LA County Assessor's Office
Newspaper posts new batch of documents online
By Yvonne Betlzer, NBC News
" A small South Los Angeles County community newspaper has posted another 134 emails between Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez and various property tax agents who allegedly worked to get tax reductions on some real estate. Noguez is currently on a leave of absence, but he is still receiving his full $192,000 annual salary. The Los Cerritos Community Newspaper, circulation 16,000, first broke the story of the investigation into the assessor's office several months ago. It had been investigating the story for about two years. Reporter Randy Economy said the emails are part of the criminal investigation into the alleged dealings of Noguez, his deputies and the tax agents. One from Noguez's deputy Robert Meraz tells tax agent Ramin Salari that checks on two property tax reductions are "in the mail." The checks were for lowered assessments and they went directly to the agent rather than the property owners, Economy said. He said the newspaper has some 3,000 additional emails it is still reviewing. Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley has called the investigation into the assessor's office one of the most important criminal probes into corruption in 40 years. A former property appraiser, Scott Schenter, from the office is already under indictment for allegedly falsifying records and illegally reducing property values."
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