I can't put it any better than reporter Jack Dolan in the LA Times: "Dozens of wealthy homeowners who got large, improper tax breaks from a rogue county employee in recent years had one thing in common: They had hired a consultant at the center of an influence-peddling investigation roiling the Los Angeles County assessor's office." Those breaks "wiped more than $56 million in taxable value from the county tax roll," Dolan says. It's interesting to prosecutors because of tax consultant Ramin Salari's ties to elected county Assessor John Noguez. "The assessor won election in 2010 with generous contributions from Salari, his clients and his immediate family members," the Times says.
The rogue county employee mentioned is Scott Schenter, a former county appraiser who resigned last year ahead of being fired, county officials say, and who had "secretly helped Salari's clients and others significantly lower their tax bills." He also helped raise money for Noguez's campaign.
Asked at a public event Wednesday in the L.A. County Hall of Administration whether he knows Schenter, Salari said, "No comment." Asked whether he offered Schenter any reward for helping his clients, Salari smiled and turned away from a pair of Times reporters.
The allegations of impropriety have played a role in several sudden departures from county government.
Last month, a former special assistant to Noguez said he resigned because he believed Salari had improper influence at the assessor's office.
On Wednesday, Noguez's recently appointed chief of staff, Christopher Carlos, abruptly announced his resignation too. There was no official explanation, but a source with knowledge of Carlos' reasons said he quit over concerns about Noguez's relationship with Salari and "possibly inappropriate interactions" between Noguez and Schenter.
The brewing scandal around the assessor's office first broke in the Los Cerritos News.