Before sentencing former Councilman John Drayman to one year in county jail for embezzling money from a local farmer’s market, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus compared Drayman to other public officials who have made recent headlines for corruption-related charges.
“In our world today, especially recently, every time you open the newspaper, you see politicians ripping off the public,” Marcus said, making specific references to the city of Bell scandal and the indictment last week of California Sen. Leland Yee. “And now we have Mr. Drayman who is now part of this landscape.”
Drayman pled guilty last month to three felony counts: embezzlement, filing false tax returns and perjury. His admission to embezzlement did not include a specific dollar amount, but prosecutors have said he stole at least $304,000 over seven years, both before and after he took office, from the Sunday farmer’s market organized by the Montrose Shopping Park Assn.
The city of Bell scandal involved multiple public officials who used public funds to inflate their salaries. Former council members have been convicted of misappropriating funds and ex-City Manager Robert Rizzo has already pled guilty to all 69 corruption-related counts charged against him.
Yee was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly promising political favors to undercover FBI agents in exchange for campaign contributions. He also indicted on a gun trafficking charge.
Marcus went on to say that Drayman took advantage of his position of trust.
Deputy District Atty. Susan Schwartz echoed the judge’s comments and highlighted the role of members of the business promotions group in bringing Drayman to justice.
“There were some very brave people on the board of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. who risked their reputations in the community, despite the fact that John Drayman was still a powerful public figure,” she said.
Alyce Russell, a former president of the shopping park association board, reported her suspicions about Drayman’s theft to the police along with others in 2011.
“I appreciate that [Schwartz] recognized it was a difficult decision for all of us to make,” she said. “We did what we thought was right.”
Drayman declined to comment both before and during the sentencing hearing.
-- Brittany Levine, firstname.lastname@example.org