Victims of former Councilman John Drayman’s embezzlement scheme said they were shocked on Wednesday to learn the convicted felon would serve the remainder of his time in custody — an expected total of six weeks — in home confinement, after spending just eight days in jail.
Originally, Drayman was sentenced last week to serve one year behind bars, but once he was in custody, his projected release date was slashed in half. It was cut once again Wednesday afternoon.
“We spent three years working with the police and the district attorney's office trying to bring this man to justice and there's no justice,” said Dale Dawson, business administrator for the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., the organization from which Drayman had been accused of stealing more than $304,000 over seven years.
Drayman is set to be under home confinement, which requires him to wear an electronic monitor around his ankle, through May 18, which is his projected release date, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s website. That would be less than two months since he was taken into custody.
Drayman pleaded guilty to embezzlement, perjury and filing false tax returns.. His reduced sentence was a result of state prison realignment and overcrowding, authorities have said.
Drayman was released on Tuesday afternoon from Men’s Central Jail and transferred to his Montrose condominium overlooking a grassy hillside after Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department and Los Angeles County Probation Department officials determined he should be placed in alternative custody. He was given home confinement because he scored well on a risk assessment, said Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department Lt. Jason Wolak.
Inmates must pay $300 for the electronic bracelet, Wolak said, and normally about $20 per day for the monitoring, though the actual cost is calculated by a sliding scale based on an inmate's ability to pay.
Ken Grayson, a board member of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., was just as shocked as Dawson.
“I don't understand the system,” he said.
Former Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa, who was in charge when the Glendale Police Department investigated Drayman's embezzlement from the shopping park association’s weekly farmers market, called Drayman's short time behind bars representative of the failures of state prison realignment rules known as AB109.
“This is a direct illustration of the effect that AB109 has had on our local justice system in that there is a loss of accountability and consequences for felony criminal behavior,” he said. “I'm sure the community is quite upset at seeing it was such a short time span. That's unfortunate.”
When Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus sentenced Drayman to one year in jail last week, he called him a “crook” and said his conduct was appalling. On Wednesday , he declined to comment due to court policies that restrict him from doing so. Deputy District Atty. Susan Schwartz, who prosecuted Drayman’s case, also declined comment.
Dawson, who stressed he was speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the association, said he felt Drayman’s situation sends a signal to the younger generation that one can steal and face few consequences.
“I don't think outrageous is a big enough word,” he said. “As a friend of mine says, 'It's a head shaker.’”
Wolak said the sheriff’s department isn’t privy to the details of Drayman’s home confinement, which is overseen by their counterparts in the probation department, and probation authorities said they could not release those details due to inmate protection rules.
Reaver Bingham, deputy chief of field services for the probation department, said many factors come into play when home confinement rules are set, but in general, he described it as a “virtual jail,” although Drayman may be able to use his phone and Internet since he hasn’t committed a sexual crime.
Knocks on Drayman's door went unanswered Wednesday morning, but some neighbors at his condominium complex on the 3400 block of Stancrest Drive were quick to come to his defense.
“I'm glad he's home and wish him the very best,” said 85-year-old Elma Schwartz.
Others said Drayman may be guilty of greed, but he was always a good neighbor. But Schwartz said despite his admission of guilt, she doesn't believe “such a nice man” could steal that much money. Schwartz said she planned to buy him an Easter card and tape it on his door tomorrow.
Not everyone was so supportive, though.
A 76-year-old neighbor who asked to remain anonymous so as not to cause animosity with a criminal, said it was wrong for Drayman to be in home confinement.
“If he stays away from me, I'll stay away from him,” the man said. “I don't want to be around a convicted felon.”
While Drayman didn't come to the door, a dog barked inside. ”Don't Stop Believin'“ by Journey and other soft rock tunes played on the loudspeakers in the complex’s pink hallway.