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Former Glendale councilman indicted on embezzlement charges

May 8, 2012 | 12:24 pm

John Drayman

Former Glendale Councilman John Drayman has been indicted on charges that he embezzled between $304,000 and $880,000 from the weekly farmers market in Montrose.

In the indictment filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, prosecutors also allege that Drayman falsified tax returns to hide the embezzlement, which they say occurred between 2004 and 2011.

Drayman, who was arraigned on the felony charges at a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, pleaded not guilty to the charges. They include one count of embezzlement, 10 counts of filing false tax returns, five counts of money laundering, three counts of forgery, one count filing a false financial statement and eight counts of perjury by declaration, the Glendale News-Press reported.

His bail was set at $200,000.

Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Schwartz said in court that the evidence "shows he definitely put that money into his own bank account."

She also alleged that Drayman repeatedly lied to authorities during the course of the investigation. Drayman was not immediately available for comment as he conferred with a number of supporters who packed the courtroom.

The indictment caps a months-long Glendale police investigation into allegations of embezzlement brought by the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., which operates the Harvest Market every Sunday.

The event had been logging steady losses as early as 2011, when organizers estimated they would lose $52,000 on the venture.

In the years since he helped create the Harvest Market in 2002, Drayman maintained an active role in the market, even after his election to the City Council in 2007.

But amid steep revenue losses, the association's board of directors created a "Harvest Market Oversight Committee" in April 2011 and instituted a new procedure for collecting and recording weekly cash payments from vendors. Around the same time, Drayman was removed from his role in helping with the event for which some vendors said he collected cash payments.

A few months later, the association started reporting massive market revenue spikes -- a turnaround Executive Director Dale Dawson called a "wonderful mystery."

By December of that year, the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. was forecasting a profit on the market of roughly $130,000 for 2012 -- or nearly half the group's operating budget.

Drayman has also been under fire for failing to file proper permits for a massive renovation of his condominium.

Drayman has since been working to secure proper building permits for the disputed $213,000 renovation, which was originally reported to the city as being worth $30,000 -- an error he has blamed on the contractor, National Fire Systems & Services Inc.

The work has been mired in controversy amid allegations that National Fire Systems & Services performed the work at the behest of Advanced Development Inc., an affordable housing developer that allegedly bilked millions from Glendale and other cities by overbilling for construction.

Since that time, Drayman has paid about $2,819 in permit fees and fines to legalize the project. City officials say they continue to work with him on legalizing the work.


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-- Jason Wells, Veronica Rocha and Brittany Levine, Times Community News

Photo: Former Glendale City Councilman John Drayman arrives at the C.S. Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles to be arraigned on charges on Tuesday. Credit: Raul Roa / Times Community News