On June 1, Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez informed the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that he intends to take a leave of absence from his position as county assessor while the Office of the District Attorney continues its investigation into alleged impropriety and fraud. His leave will commence upon the board of supervisors’ recommendation and the formal appointment of a chief deputy assessor to run the Assessor’s Office during his absence.
“In the interest of restoring public confidence in the professionalism, integrity, and impartiality of the Assessor’s Office, I intend to take a leave of absence from my duties as assessor,” wrote Noguez in his letter to the board of supervisors. “I do not take this decision lightly. It is my sincere hope that the leave of absence will allow the Assessor’s Office to adhere to its mission during this important time.”
During the absence of the County Assessor, a chief deputy assessor will be in charge. However, because the position is currently vacant, Noguez has asked the supervisors to recommend an individual for the post. Noguez has asked the supervisors to make that recommendation without his input. Once designated, Noguez’s leave will commence.
In response to Noguez’s announcement, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said, “This action, and the appointment of an interim director to manage daily operations and functions, begins the process of restoring the public’s confidence and trust in the office.”
In April, the district attorney obtained warrants, and the homes and offices of the assessor and a tax lobbyist were searched for evidence of illegal activity. Currently being held on $1.5 million bail, a former Los Angeles County deputy assessor was arrested on May 21 in Oregon and charged with falsifying department documents and unlawfully lowering property values of multi-million dollar homes and businesses in exchange for campaign contributions for the assessor.
Supervisor Antonovich’s motion directing County Counsel to prepare an advisory vote for the November election asking if the Los Angeles County Assessor should be an appointed or an elected position will be voted on June 19.