K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Los Angeles Appraisals Probed

Tamara Audi & Erica Phillips:

Property values in the ritzy communities of Beverly Hills and Brentwood have fallen along with those elsewhere amid the recession. But prosecutors here say that for some of those houses and businesses the drop isn’t because of the economy, it’s criminal.
An investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office last month led to the arrest of a former county appraiser on felony charges for allegedly improperly lowering dozens of property values by a combined $172 million.
The arrest was part of an continuing criminal investigation of the Los Angeles County Assessor’s office to determine whether homeowners and businesses in some of the nation’s richest neighborhoods were given tax breaks in exchange for campaign contributions to the assessor.