Drayman pleads poverty on restitution

Updated and corrected. See details below. 

Despite getting a federal subsidy to save his home from foreclosure, ex-Councilman John Drayman told a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday that he could not afford $1,000 monthly payments to the victims of his crimes.

As part of his punishment, Drayman is supposed to pay $304,000 in restitution to the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. for embezzling money over seven years, which included his years on council, from the business promotions group and $14,000 to the California Franchise Tax Board for filing false tax returns that did not include the stolen funds.

He was also ordered to spend a year in jail, but he only served eight days behind bars and the remainder of a total of six weeks in confinement in his hillside condominium in Montrose.

Drayman at one point stopped paying his mortgage and Wells Fargo began foreclosure proceedings on his condominium, which is valued at about $501,000, but was last sold in 1977 for $70,500, according to real estate website zillow.com.

Drayman said he received financial assistance from Keep Your Home California, a federal subsidy program administered by California Housing Finance Agency, to reinstate his mortgage. How much he has paid since his mortgage was reinstated was not included in documents he submitted to the court, neither was the amount of benefit assistance he received.

Keep Your Home California gives up to $25,000 to cover principal, interest, taxes, insurance and homeowner’s association dues, according to its website.

--Update 4:12 p.m.: Specific information about Drayman’s case can’t be revealed due to Keep Your Home California policies, said Steve Gallagher, a program spokesman. Convicted felons can apply for the federal subsidy, but those who have committed financial crimes in connection to real estate or mortgage transactions are ineligible.

Keep Your Home California gives up to $25,000 to cover principal, interest, taxes, insurance and homeowner’s association dues, according to its website.--

A court financial adviser recommended Drayman pay $1,000 per month or a lesser amount if he reinstated his mortgage. Drayman said he could only afford payments of $250 a month.

--Update 4:12 p.m.: However, mortgages of Keep Your Home California participants cannot exceed 38% of their income, which means Drayman must have reported his income to the program as $2,984 or more.--

“I know your situation concerns you, but I’m concerned about the victims who don’t have their money,” said Judge Stephen Marcus.

Drayman didn’t bring any proof that he had already started making mortgage payments, although he claimed to have been paying since June. Until Drayman had evidence, Marcus said he would order him to pay $1,000 per month to the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. If he does not pay $3,000 to the business group that runs the farmers market he stole from by September, Marcus said he would revoke Drayman’s probation and possibly bring him back into custody or order him to do community service.

Drayman is set to serve five years of probation as part of the plea deal he brokered earlier this year.

Marcus also said he was surprised Drayman didn’t do the jail time he was sentenced to, adding that at the minimum, he thought he would spend 90 days in jail.

Dana Aratani, deputy district attorney, raised concerns about Drayman’s financial information.

“There seems to be some inconsistencies [between] how Mr. Drayman is living and what has been reported to the financial adviser,” Aratani said.

When asked if he had other property, such as a car, Drayman said he drove a 2006 Chrysler that was given to him by his employer. Drayman said he was employed by Bill Weisman, a former city commissioner.

Outside of court, Weisman declined to comment on what Drayman was doing as part of his job.

Drayman stole money from the Montrose farmers market on Honolulu Avenue, which he helped run, between 2004 to 2011, as the business group that organizes the market struggled financially. Drayman sat on City Council from 2007 to 2011 and was mayor between April 2008 and April 2009.


FOR THE RECORD: This article incorrectly states that former city commissioner Bill Weisman gave John Drayman a car. In fact, Weisman is paying Drayman’s car loan in exchange for work from Drayman.


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