As this is about corruption, if you guessed that John Noguez, current LA County Assessor, was likely a Democrat, you get a cookie:
Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said Tuesday that the corruption investigation of Assessor John Noguez has grown to include multiple targets and that he intends to seek grand jury indictments in the near future.
In his first public comments about the expanding criminal probe, Cooley also accused the union that represents assessor’s office employees of interfering with the investigation by ordering members to refuse to cooperate without permission from Noguez’s office.
“They’re telling potential witnesses that, until they get permission from the No. 1 target, they can’t talk,” said Cooley, waving a copy of the memo at a conference table in his office. He added that whoever issued the order will probably be the first person summoned to testify under oath in front of the grand jury.
The investigation, which began last year, has centered on tax breaks allegedly extended to Noguez campaign contributors and would-be contributors. Property tax bills are based on assessed values, which are determined by Noguez’s staff. A lower assessed value means a lower tax bill.
One of the enablers of Noguez in his unlikely 2010 run for County Assessor was none other than LA’s own Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, who brought Noguez a key endorsement and never backed off of it, even while the LA Times was finding flaws with the candidate and endorsing one of his rivals.
Another key backer was California Assemblymember Gil Cedillo, presently running for the seat that Ed Reyes will vacate on LA City Council in 2013.
Even four of the five LA County Supervisors–Zev Yaroslavsky, Gloria Molina, Don Knabe, and Mark Ridley-Thomas–enthusiastically endorsed the man with the suspicious pedigree when he made his 2010 run. Among the Supes, only Mike Antonovich demurred. And Noguez’s own “Being There” styled flickr feed, post 2009, features him suddenly mugging with local notables like Councilmember Jan Perry and Congresswoman Judy Chu. He was also endorsed by the persnickety and tax-hostile Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association–an endorsement not typically won or even sought by most Los Angeles County politicians.
Okay, you may say, they were taken by surprise by how corrupt the man “became”, but the information was out there the guy was shady well before the election [my emphasis below]:
But public records regarding John Noguez, as well as complaints from two City Council candidates who oppose the rising Democratic political star, have unveiled an odd, and even foreboding, controversy as the election approaches in this working-class suburb seven miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
Documents obtained by the L.A. Weekly show that John Noguez is not the incumbent mayor’s birth name. Nor is his other frequently used name, Juan Noguez.
Moreover, according to a Huntington Park Police Department crime report, also obtained by the Weekly, one of the candidates who complained to city officials about Noguez running under an assumed name was recently threatened on the street. Huntington Park Detective Sergeant John Navarette confirmed the ongoing investigation of a “terrorist threat” directed at City Council candidate Efren Martinez, a 26-year-old U.S. Marine reservist recently deployed to Somalia, who is making his second run at elected office.
On January 2, 2007, a letter from lawyer Jeffrey Sklan to Huntington Park City Clerk Rosanna Ramirez, and obtained by the Weekly, stated that Martinez and running mate Linda Guevara “may be adversely affected by the failure to timely resolve this issue” of Noguez’s use of multiple names. Sklan, representing Martinez and Guevara on a pro bono basis, asked for an expedited review of an earlier request by Guevara to disqualify Noguez from the election for violating a state law prohibiting politicians from using fictitious names when running for office.
Three weeks later, on January 24, candidate Martinez was threatened, according to the Huntington Park Police Department crime report, while walking on Stafford Avenue at about 7 p.m. According to the report, Martinez was approached from behind and confronted by a man with a thick mustache and heavy eyebrows wearing a black blazer and slacks while two other similarly dressed men stood behind the first suspect.
The suspect grabbed Martinez, pushed him against a wall and said, “Whatever you’re doing with John Noguez, let it go,” the police report states. The three men got into a black luxury car, driven by a fourth suspect, and drove off. The report states that Martinez took the incident as a threat after one of the men stated that they were serious. Martinez, who lost his bid for council in 2005, declined to comment on the alleged threat.
With thuggery like this, I’m surprised Noguez wasn’t tapped by the Obama administration. They can always use another thug.
Oh, go see mom for your cookie. Tell I said you could have one.