By Mary O’KEEFE
Former Glendale City Councilmember and longtime Montrose resident John Drayman was out on bail Wednesday after spending the night in custody in the Los Angeles County jail.
On Tuesday morning, Drayman faced Judge Patricia Schnegg in Los Angeles County Superior Court as she opened the Grand Jury record that revealed the 28 charges that have been filed against him.
The felony charges include one count of embezzlement from the Sunday Harvest Market, 10 counts of filing false tax returns with the IRS, five counts of money laundering, three counts of forgery, one count of falsifying a financial statement, and eight counts of perjury by declaration.
It is alleged Drayman had stolen anywhere from $304,000 to $880,000 from the proceeds of the Harvest Market for which he was in charge of collecting the fees since 2004.
At Drayman’s Tuesday arraignment over 25 people from the Crescenta Valley community came to the courtroom to show their support. Annie Clarke, former owner of Annie’s Scandal clothing shop, was among those voicing their support.
“I have known John for a long time,” she said. “John is innocent.”
Clarke was a member of the MSPA for years and acted as treasurer until 2004, when Drayman took over the collection of funds for the market.
“I kept the [books] for the Glendale Police substation, the Arts and Crafts event, the Harvest Market and the general fund,” she said.
Clarke added she kept extensive records and receipts on her own, beyond the requirements of the MSPA. She worked with Drayman on several events and never saw anything that would lead her to believe there were any missing funds.
Drayman supporters were there not only to give moral support but financial as well. Funds for his $200,000 bail bond came as a donation from community members.
The $16,000 bail bond fee was offered in cash and a resident’s home was offered as collateral for the $200,000 bond. Deputy District Attorney Susan Schwartz requested a forensic accounting of the money offered for bail. That process took detectives about 24 hours, which is why Drayman spent Tuesday night in custody.
Drayman’s lawyer, Michael Kraut said he had provided the district attorney with 10 people who will show that his client did not commit the crimes.
The charges against Drayman stem from accusations of embezzlement of Harvest Market funds made by members of the Montrose Shopping Park Association’s board a year ago. At the time, then MSPA President Alyce Russell, Executive Director Dale Dawson and two other members of the board allegedly discovered inconsistencies in the amount of money that was gathered from the vendors at the market.
In an interview with the Crescenta Valley Weekly a year ago, Russell said members of the board started researching other farmer’s markets and found they were successful at a time when the Harvest Market appeared to be running at an extreme loss.
Drayman was asked to step down from his role with the market and, according to Dawson, the funds received from the market improved greatly. This matched the findings of the MSPA board during their research of other local farmer’s markets.
The way the market worked at that time, according to Dawson, was Jeff Decker, who was in charge of the “thieves” or flea market area, would collect the set fee for those booths and Mark Sheridan would collect the fees from the food venders. Their fees were determined by a percentage brought in by their sales. Both Decker and Sheridan would then turn the money and receipts over to Drayman, who in turn would turn them over to Dawson.
However the receipts and the funds were not turned in in a timely manner, Dawson said at the time of the initial investigation.
“We were concerned last year that the money from Drayman was missing and that embezzlement was a possibility. We took our [concerns] to the Glendale police,” said present MSPA President Ken Grayson.
Grayson was not on the board when the alleged embezzlement was initially discovered.
He added that board members are relieved that the process is finally moving forward after the yearlong investigation.
“We are relieved that something has come to fruition,” he said.
Grayson echoed many in the community concerning the revelation of the charges.
“I have know John for many years. He has done a lot of positive things for the community,” he said.
Many who have contacted CVW have expressed disbelief with the allegations. Some are in support, some are certain of guilt but most are still in shock and are waiting for the trail to begin.
Drayman will appear in Los Angeles Superior Court again on June 28.