Friday, August 21, 2015

If you do business in The OC, chances are you are being ripped off by the Tax Assessor. First Guillory, now Parrish: Lawsuit

 Employees Fired for Reporting Corruption in Assessor's Office

Posted By CotoBlogzz

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA – a complaint (30-2015-00805368-CU-WT-CJC) was filed earlier this week, with the Superior Court of California County of Orange by Jorge Lopez and Larry Bales against the Assessor’s Office.

 When Claude Parrish, the County Assessor took over he hired Lopez and Bales, two retired supervisors from the Assessor’s Office to come back to work to help him identify problems within his new office, and get his office in order.   Within weeks of Parrish taking office, the  two newly reinstated supervisors discovered so many statutory and regulatory violations that Parrish fired both of them to avoid publicly exposing the issues they brought to his attention.

According to the complaint, prior to terminating them, Parrish made comments indicating that the plaintiffs  were identifying too many problems within his office and according to Claude Parrish, The Orange County Assessor is ranked 54th out of 58 Counties by the California State Board of Equalization

Lopez, one of the plaintiffs in this case, on March, 2014  filed a complaint against Webster Guillory with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Orange County Grand Jury, including

  1. Perjury
  2. Political campaigning in the workplace
  3. Misuse of public funds
  4. Violation of Assessor’s Department policy regarding political campaigning
  5. Violation of County of Orange policy regarding political campaigning
  6. Inappropriate and unethical behavior in the workplace
  7. Indirect/direct pressure on public employees to sign nomination papers

Lopez also filed complaints with the Political Corruption Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Office in Organge County.

In September 2014, the OCDA charged Webster Guillory with three felony counts of filing false nomination papers.

The lawsuit against the County of Orange includes the following allegations:

  1. Working While Under the Influence
  2. High-level manager filing false payroll & expense reports with his supervisor’s knowledge
  3. Employee discrimination over political affiliations and voting preferences
  4. Management’s failure to provide reasonable accommodations to and employee for a documented medical condition
  5. Intentional over-assessment of taxpayers
  6. Manipulation by management of the mandatory audit list for 2014 in order to avoid refunding overpayments
  7. Lack of control & accountability for service contracts for equipment not being serviced
  8. Outside contractors providing services to the Assessor not being monitored
  9. Appeals deputy harassing and abusing taxpayers with the supervisor’s knowledge
  10. Arbitrary assessment of taxpayers without any basis

While it remains to be seen whether the allegations are proven true I court, what is clear is that the Assessor’s office can benefit from an independent audit.  Not only that, but everyone doing business with the county should perform her own audit to make sure she is not being ripped off by the Assessor’s office.

We contacted the Orange County Performance Audit department for comment on the complaint but have not received a response.

No comments: