LOS ANGELES – A former appraiser with the L.A. County Assessor’s Office was arrested Monday for allegedly falsifying department documents and unlawfully lowering property values by $172 million.
Scott Schenter, who worked from 1988 to early 2011 as a county appraiser, allegedly slashed values on multi-million dollar homes, condos and businesses in Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades.
Schenter allegedly secured campaign contributions from the owners of those homes and business for Assessor John Noguez.
Schenter, 49, was arrested Monday morning in Beaverton, Ore. He is being held on $1.5 million bail.
“The magnitude of Schenter’s suspected betrayal of public trust is almost inconceivable,” Cooley said in a prepared statement. “We believe his actions are not isolated.”
Schenter’s arrest is part of an investigation launched last year by the D.A.’s Public Integrity Division into allegations that Noguez and several of his staff had reduced property values for wealthy clients of Ramin Salari, a tax consultant and campaign contributor to Noguez.
“This investigation is active, ongoing and multi-faceted,” Cooley said.
Deputy District Attorney Susan Schwartz filed a felony complaint for arrest warrant Wednesday, charging Schenter with 60 felony counts, including 30 counts of falsifying accounts and 30 counts of falsifying records. Schwartz said refund checks were issued to property owners in counts 1-30. In counts 31-60, devaluations were reversed before refunds could be issued.
The unauthorized reductions were discovered by Schenter’s supervisor in January 2011.
If convicted, Schenter faces up to 33 years in state prison.
(Information via press release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.)
Schenter’s scandal was profiled in a cover story that ran in LA Weekly last month. LA Weekly reported Schenter felt pressured to generate campaign contributions for Assessor John Noguez, and hoped doing so would get him promoted. Read the full story here.