Former Councilman John Drayman pleaded guilty to three felonies Wednesday morning, including embezzlement, and agreed to a sentence of one year in jail as well as paying about $305,000 in restitution.
During the brief hearing in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, he also agreed to pay about $14,000 in restitution to the state of California Franchise Tax Board. One of the felony counts was filing false tax returns as a result of his theft from a weekly farmers market run by the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. The third was perjury.
Drayman has a few weeks before his sentencing. He is scheduled to return to Los Angeles Superior Court on April 7 and is set to spend his time behind bars in Los Angeles County Jail. He will also serve five years probation.
This was Drayman’s third shot at a plea deal.
In September, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus rejected his 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 plea 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 vetoed that, too, noting that if Drayman accepted spending a year in jail, he would reluctantly agree to such a deal.
Marcus has said during court room appearances that if Drayman went to trial and lost, he would be given a prison sentence.
Wearing a gray suit and tie, Drayman calmly waived his rights to a jury trial, which was scheduled to take place in April. The jury trial would have begun about two years after he was indicted by the grand jury on 28 counts, including forgery and money laundering.
Authorities claimed that he embezzled at least $304,000 from the shopping park association between 2004 and 2011 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 admitting to stealing.
At one point Drayman, who served on the council from 2007 to 2011 and held the position of mayor between April 2008 and April 2009, did not turn over market fees for nearly a year. Meanwhile, the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. experienced budget woes, and the group struggled to stay afloat. Since Drayman has been out of the picture, the association’s revenues have skyrocketed.
Drayman declined to comment after pleading guilty. Deputy District Atty. Susan Schwartz said that she would wait to make a statement until after the sentencing.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story included a headline that John Drayman was sentenced to one year in jail. This is incorrect. Sentencing will happen on April 7 and Drayman currently faces a one year sentence.