Former Glendale councilmember John Drayman will face jail time and must pay restitution.
By Mary O’KEEFE
On Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus accepted a plea agreement in the case of John Drayman, ending an ordeal that lasted over two years and brought down a once-respected member of the community.
Drayman originally had 28 counts filed against him. He pled guilty to count one of embezzlement, count two of giving false statements to the California State Franchise Tax Board and count 25 of perjury. Drayman will serve one year in L.A. County jail, five years probation and pay about $305,000 in restitution to the Montrose Shopping Park Association and $14,000 to the state tax board.
The ordeal began on May 5, 2011 when representatives of the Montrose Shopping Park Association went to the Glendale Police Dept. with suspicions that Drayman had embezzled funds from their organization, specifically the Harvest Market.
The Harvest Market, in its current form, began in 2002. Since its beginning, the market earned low returns and, at times, operated at a loss. MSPA board members wanted to improve the Harvest Market. When they visited other markets, they discovered those were actually making money.
“We had counted [the Harvest Market] as a promotional vehicle, a loss leader,” said Dale Dawson, a MSPA administrator. (Dawson responded to questions by CVW concerning Drayman and Wednesday’s agreement not as a member of the MSPA or as its executive director, but as the administrator who with members of the board brought their concerns to GPD.)
A loss leader is a strategy where an event, like the Harvest Market, introduces customers to a product such as the shops in Montrose.
“We lived with the losses as they continued to increase,” Dawson said. “Mr. Drayman attributed it to the [poor] economy.”
Dawson said the initial response to the losses was too much was being spending but then he and former board members began to look closer.
The losses ranged from $46,000 to $30,000 a year compared to today where the Harvest Market’s expected annual budget, not including expenses, is $170,000, Dawson said.
Drayman’s role in the Harvest Market was as part of the team that collected and reported the receipts back to the MSPA. At the time, Drayman said the money from the food booths and flea market sections of the market were collected by others and then given to him.
The decision to bring their concerns to the police was not an easy one according to Dawson.
The GPD investigated the accusations against Drayman. A grand jury was convened and in 2012 Drayman was formally charged with 28 counts including embezzlement and filing false tax returns. He was accused of embezzling an amount ranging from $304,000 to $800,000. Drayman pled not guilty to the charges and was remanded into custody for 24 hours. He was then released on $200,000 bail.
It was then in and out of court. Drayman’s first attorney was let go due to finances. He then had two public defenders.
The decision on Wednesday is especially bittersweet for many in the Montrose community who were in one of three camps: those who were certain of his guilt, those who were certain of his innocence and those who simply did not want to believe it.
“[There] are a lot of mixed feelings,” Dawson said. “I considered John my friend. It is not a happy day; it is a sad day.” Dawson added the MSPA took some heat when they first went to the GPD and that it has not been easy for the association.
Although Drayman was a Glendale City Councilmember and had served as Glendale mayor, many in the Montrose area thought of him first and foremost as a member of their community.
Dee Ovenden considers herself a Drayman friend.
“I have always felt John did a lot for Montrose,” she said. “I have known him for years.”
Drayman had helped Ovenden with the successful Montrose Arts & Crafts Festivals that are held in June.
“It was a shock,” Ovenden said when she heard the accusations. “I have worked with him and he has always been fair.”
Drayman will be back in court on April 7 for sentencing. His lawyer Sean McDonald asked that Drayman have at least two weeks before sentence being passed to give Drayman time to get his affairs in order.