LOS ANGELES – A judge Wednesday rejected a request to throw out criminal charges or to remove the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office from the case against former County Assessor John Noguez and a tax consultant being prosecuted with him in light of the prosecution turning over e-mails containing what the defense says is discussions of defense strategy.
Following a hearing that stretched over two afternoon court sessions, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli said “it has not been established that there was a violation of the attorney-client privilege.”
He said the evidence had not established that confidential information was ever used by prosecutors.
Noguez and co-defendant Ramin Salari were charged along with former chief appraiser Mark McNeil in October 2012 in connection with an investigation into allegations that the assessor’s office reduced property tax assessments in exchange for campaign contributions. At the time, Noguez was the county assessor.
The three are charged with multiple counts including misappropriation of public funds and conspiracy to misappropriate public funds. Salari is also charged in a separate tax evasion case.
Deputy District Attorneys Craig Hum and Michele Gilmer have maintained that they had not looked at e-mails subject to the attorney-client privilege. Under oath, Hum maintained that the prosecution had not reviewed any such e- mails.
Salari’s attorney, Manuel Medrano, said earlier that he was concerned that the District Attorney’s Office might have relied on his client’s e-mails to build its case. He asked for the case to be dismissed, for the entire District Attorney’s Office to be taken off the case or, at a minimum, to “start with a fresh prosecutorial team.”
The judge told both sides to return to court Jan. 26, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require the three to stand trial.
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