With Tuesday’s indictment of former Glendale City Councilman John Drayman, longtime council critics are wondering if any more local public figures are in trouble with the law.
Two political watchdogs in Glendale say that more charges could be coming similar to the 28-count indictment filed by a Los Angles County grand jury against Drayman for allegedly embezzling between $305,000 and $880,000 from the Montrose Farmers Market.
On Wednesday, Drayman, 54, was released from custody after being held on $200,000 bail. He is scheduled to return to court on June 28 for a pretrial hearing.
On Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty before Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg to 10 counts of filing false tax returns, five counts of money laundering, three counts of forgery, one count of filing false financial statements, one count of embezzlement and eight counts of perjury. If convicted on all counts, Drayman faces 10 years in prison, according to Glendale city officials.
Drayman has also come under fire for renovations made to his condominium, which according to the Los Angeles Time were originally reported to cost $30,000 but ended up totaling $213,000. The work was performed by National Fire Systems and Services Inc. without the required permits. Drayman’s condo complex was built by Advanced Development Inc., an affordable housing developer accused of raking in millions from Glendale and other cities by overbilling for construction. National Fire Systems is a subcontractor for ADI.
The $213,000 was supposed to be paid by ADI, but the subcontractor only received $98,000, according to Glendale political watchdog Barry Allen, who said that the subcontractor has placed a lien on the condominium and has filed a lawsuit to foreclose on the unit.
“I do believe this will be the first of several indictments,” said Allen, who regularly speaks at council meetings and operates a news-oriented Web site. “He will have to be tried by a jury of his peers. We did have witnesses for the Police Department, but they chose not to use them. They [witnesses] were concerned about retaliation. We asked the police to set up a protocol to provide them safety, but the police said no, so we did not provide the witnesses.”
When asked about Allen’s claims, Glendale Police Spokesman Sgt. Tom Lorenz told the Weekly the department could not comment on the investigation.
“The ADI matter is a separate issue, being handled by federal authorities,” said Allen. “A third issue is that Drayman’s condo was being renovated while skirting city building permits … He’s got a lot of issues, legal issues, criminal and civil, that are certainly of his own making.”
Elissa Glickman, interim director of nonprofit organization Glendale Arts, which manages Glendale’s historic Alex Theatre, had many encounters with Drayman over the years due to his passion for the arts. She expressed a mix of appreciation for his help and surprised disappointment over the indictments.
“I think the most disappointing thing is that John was an incredible supporter of the arts and what we brought to the city through Glendale Arts,” said Glickman.” It’s an example of things spiraling out of control. It’s unfortunate because the Drayman name has such a legacy in Montrose and the family has done so much for this community that there’s a black mark now. Even if these allegations prove to be untrue, they will always stain his reputation, and it’s unfortunate.
“As a councilperson, he was always a huge supporter of the arts,” Glickman continued. “He helped not only do things for the Alex Theater, but helped bring the [impending addition of a Laemmle movie theater] along and the Museum of Neon Art. He always looked out for culture and art in the public realm. Luckily we still have [council member] Laura Friedman, somebody else who seems able to carry that torch.”
“Drayman has said if I go down, so will everybody else,” said Glendale political observer and onetime council candidate Mike Mohill, who ran against Drayman in 2011.
“This is a man who would go to City Council and call me an attack dog,” Mohill said. “He would belittle me every week and attack me personally. He is an embarrassment to the city of Glendale.”