A few months after securing Mosaddegh's refund, Noguez began the campaign for his agency's top job, the elected post of county assessor. A win would make him responsible for setting taxable values on more than a trillion dollars worth of real estate in Los Angeles County, the largest property tax roll in the country.
Soon after that, Mosaddegh said, Salari stopped by his office with a demand: $2,000 for Noguez's campaign.
"He said he was asking the same amount from all of his clients," Mosaddegh said. "He certainly wasn't shy."
Instead of getting a check directly from Mosaddegh, which could be too easy to trace to the business, Salari advised collecting checks from other people, Mosaddegh said. So two employees, the manager Pierre Toulakany and another manager, Ana Avagimian, each wrote personal checks for $1,000.
From all he'd seen and heard, Mosaddegh said, it was clear that Noguez was Salari's "confidant and right-hand man" before the election and that "successes would be a lot more guaranteed if he became assessor."
Salari and his wife had each already contributed the legal limit, $2,000, to Noguez's campaign.
Last year, Salari sued a dozen clients, including Mosaddegh, in fee disputes.
Another businessman sued by Salari was Amir Shokrian, for whom Salari negotiated two deals, court records show. He cut the value of a Pomona shopping center from $18.7 million to $6.9 million and a Hawthorne retail complex from $12.3 million to $7 million.
Shokrian didn't contribute directly to Noguez's campaign for assessor, according to his attorney, Andrew Weitz. But Shokrian's brother Elias Shokrian and cousin Shirley Shokrian contributed $1,000 each, he said.
Henio Arcangeli, another client Salari is suing, won $2.8 million in assessed value reductions on three properties. He too was asked by his agent for contributions to Noguez.
Salari "made no bones about his friendship with the assessor" when he solicited the money, said David L. Jensen, Arcangeli's attorney. But his client didn't pay. He had "ethical concerns" about the strong-arm manner of the request, Jensen said.
News of the district attorney's examination at the assessor's office was first reported by Los Cerritos News, a community newspaper based in Cerritos.