Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George Lomeli on Tuesday ruled in a brief 15-minute pretrial conference that the criminal corruption case against former Los Angeles County Assessor John R. Noguez and two codefendants has been postponed until February 20, 2020.
Noguez and fellow defendants tax agent Ramin Salari, former Deputy Assessor Mark McNeill are facing dozens of felonies each in what former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley called the “biggest political corruption scandal in the history of LA County.” The over 60 charges can be found here on WatchOurCity.com
Neither Noguez, Salari, or McNeill appeared in court on Tuesday however they were represented by their individual legal representatives. In an interview with attorney Steven Graff Levine representing McNeil said his clients life has been “ruined” since the day he was originally arrested, eight years ago.
Levine said that McNeill has not been able to live a “normal life” since the case grabbed headlines and dominated television newscasts when the case grabbed headlines across the region and nation in 2012.
See the WatchourCity.com interview with Attorney Steven Levine inside the courthouse after the hearing.
Craig Hum, Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney for Major Crimes and co-prosecutor Assistant DA Michelle Gilmer, both attended the court proceeding. They are alleging that Noguez, Salari, McNeill, and Schenter actively participated in the crime of conspiracy to commit a crime, in violation of Penal Code Section 182(a)(1), a Felony.
Former District Attorney Steve Cooley and his team of prosecutors in 2012 said that Salari was literally given a free access pass “to go to the office and berate the employees who opposed the reduction.” Many employees interviewed at the time who work in the Assessor’s office said that Salari would “bully employees directly” in “condescending and bellicose tone.”
At the time, McNeil’s role, according to Cooley was that he was to help carry out the alleged scheme by helping carry out the tax reductions for Salari clients.
The alleged crimes took place almost nine to ten years ago, and the case has been literally spun into a tangled web of legal maneuvers and filings from the attorneys representing the defendants.
Back on October 17, 2012, Noguez, Salari and McNeill were arrested on dozens of counts of conspiracy, bribery, and corruption, with bail set at $1.36 million. The original complaint alleged, that Noguez accepted $185,000 in bribes from Salari between February and September 2010. Prosecutors later added additional charges. Noguez at the time claimed that the “bribes” were “loans” to his campaign for L.A. County Assessor and that he intended to pay them back presumably after the campaign was over.
The scandal came into the public glare when prosecutors acknowledged that they were looking into complaints from the assessor’s office employees who said they were “under pressure to lower property taxes” for Noguez political campaign contributors under the guidance of Salari. In one complaint, it was reported that appraisers inside the Assessor office, resisted reducing the assessed value of a property represented by Salari from $44 million all the way down to $30 million.
Watchourcity.com will continue to cover this case as details continue to emerge.