Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez today informed the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that he intends to take a leave of absence from his position as County Assessor. 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.
The full text of Noguez’s letter to the Board follows:
Dear Honorable Members of the Board
As you know, the District Attorney’s office is investigating allegations of misconduct in the Assessor’s Office. I have consistently offered my cooperation with this investigation as well as the full cooperation of the Assessor’s Office. My interest has been, and continues to be, the health and well-being of the Office, which I am proud to have served for over twenty-seven years.
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. I do not take this decision lightly. Rather, I do this with the solemn hope that my leave of absence will allow the professionals at the Assessor’s Office to continue to serve the taxpayers and citizens of this County.
During this absence, the Chief Deputy Assessor will be in charge of the Office; however, that position is currently vacant. To remove any possible concerns relating to my selection of a Chief Deputy Assessor to run the Assessor’s Office in my absence, I ask that the Board of Supervisors recommend a highly qualified person to serve as Chief Deputy Assessor. I ask that the Board select that individual without my input. As soon as the Board designates that person, I will appoint him or her as Chief Deputy Assessor, and I will immediately commence my leave of absence.
During my leave of absence, the Chief Deputy Assessor will manage and oversee all of the operations of the Assessor’s Office, including all personnel decisions.
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. The leave will also allow me to address certain personal medical and bereavement issues.
Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
JOHN R. NOGUEZ
Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who has been overseeing the investigation, said that the Assessor’s voluntary departure is a good thing.
“The decision today by Assessor John Noguez to take a voluntary leave of absence is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, this will help get the Assessor’s Office back on track,” Cooley said. “It will have no impact on the criminal investigation being conducted by this office. The investigation is ongoing, multi-faceted and active.”
Supervisor Michael Antonovich also issued a statement reacting to Noguez’s resignation Friday afternoon.
“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.