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Ex-Glendale councilman pleads guilty to embezzling from farmers market

Former Glendale City Councilman John Drayman is set to spend a year in jail and pay about $305,000 in restitution after pleading guilty Wednesday to three felonies related to embezzling from a farmers market.

He also agreed to pay about $14,000 in restitution to the California Franchise Tax Board, the Glendale News-Press reported. Drayman is scheduled to return to Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 7 for formal sentencing. He will also serve five years' probation.

In September, Judge Stephen Marcus rejected Drayman's plea deal proposition that included 300 hours of community service and restitution, but no time behind bars.

At the time, Marcus said he could not accept that deal because it would be a “slap on the wrist” for someone who held a position of trust as a mayor and council member when he was committing his alleged crimes.

On Monday, Drayman proposed spending 90 days in county jail in exchange for pleading guilty, but Marcus rejected that, too. Marcus said that if Drayman accepted spending a year in jail, he would reluctantly agree to such a deal.

Marcus has said during court appearances that if Drayman went to trial and lost, he would be sentenced to prison. Wearing a gray suit and tie, Drayman calmly waived his right to a jury trial, which was scheduled for April.

The trial would have taken place about two years after he was indicted by the grand jury on 28 counts, including forgery and money laundering.

Authorities claimed that between 2004 and 2011 Drayman embezzled at least $304,000 from a weekly farmers market run by the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. while he helped the group collect money from vendors at the Sunday Harvest Market along Honolulu Avenue.

Drayman’s guilty plea did not include an exact figure of how much he admitted to stealing.

At one point Drayman did not turn over market fees for nearly a year, according to the charges. Meantime, the association experienced budget woes and struggled to get by. Since Drayman has been out of the picture, the group’s revenues have skyrocketed.

Drayman declined to comment after pleading guilty. Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Schwartz said she would make a statement after sentencing.

Drayman served on the city council from 2007 to 2011 and held the post of mayor from April 2008 to April 2009.


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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine

Levine writes for Times Community News.

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