The prosecutor in the trial against former Councilman John Drayman candidly opened up about the case Thursday night, calling him a bully who had a polarizing influence in Montrose that let him get away with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the local farmers market.
During a dinner meeting of the Glendale Bar Assn., Deputy District Atty. Susan Schwartz said Drayman used his local family history and championing of the community to earn respect and mask his years of collecting a percentage of revenue from farmers market vendors for himself instead of handing it over to the board of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn.
“People who opposed him felt the brunt of his sharp tongue,” Schwartz said. “He could get very angry and could be very sarcastic to people who opposed him.”
At the end of 2010, Drayman was 30 weeks behind in turning over the proceeds and was continuing to avoid the matter when approached by the shopping park board members, Schwartz said.
“The association manager asked Drayman to turn in the market proceeds and Drayman’s response was ‘quit bugging me,’” she said. “ … He was loud and nasty when he was confronted. In short he was a bully.”
Drayman pleaded guilty in April to three felonies, including embezzling at least $304,000 from the farmers market from 2004-11.
An investigation launched after the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. reported the matter to police found that Drayman had no other income going into his bank account other than the money he took from the farmers market, Schwartz said.
Prior to his arrest, he attempted to appease the shopping park board by paying $30,000 in back fees to the market.
The money he provided wasn’t from the cash he embezzled, but rather a loan from his partner’s parents, Schwartz said.
By the time he was arrested, Drayman had only about $2,000 left in his account and had spent nearly all of the money.
Schwartz added that Drayman spent the money on maintaining his lifestyle, among other things.
“His records show that he spent funds on living expenses to giving gifts to friends and partners,” she said.
During her presentation, Schwartz showed a slide of a $1,330 auto repair bill from 2011 that Drayman paid for in cash.
Drayman was sentenced in April to a year in prison, but was released after just eight days in Los Angeles County jail and ordered to serve the remainder of his term in home confinement. He was released from home confinement in mid-May.
Schwartz said the initial attempt involved a plea deal that would have required 300 hours of community service at the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office, a sentence she would have preferred.
Drayman was also ordered to pay back $304,000 to the farmers market and $14,000 in restitution to the California Franchise Tax Board.
Schwartz said there would be another meeting later this month to determine whether he would also have to pay for the cost of his public defender.