Some Montrose business owners expressed disappointment with the sentence former Councilman John Drayman has agreed to receive, calling the one-year deal he reached with prosecutors insufficient for his crimes.
"I don't think the sentence fits the crime," said Ken Grayson, owner of Grayson's Tune Town and board member of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., the business promotions group that Drayman stole from for seven years. "I think it should have been more severe, especially after all the embarrassment that was caused to both the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. and the city of Glendale because he was a public official."
Authorities have said Drayman embezzled at least $304,000 from a weekly harvest market run by the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. on Sundays along Honolulu Avenue. Drayman collected vendor payments, but not did not return the full amounts to the association. At one point he didn't turn in money for 11 months.
Many business owners testified before a grand jury two years ago that they were afraid to come forward with their concerns because Drayman was a councilman. When Drayman pleaded guilty to embezzlement on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, his plea did not specify the amount stolen.
Drayman pleaded guilty for committing two other felonies in addition to embezzlement: filing false tax returns with the State of California Franchise Tax Board and perjury by declaration. He also has agreed to pay about $14,000 to the state for the tax fraud, which he used to hide his embezzlement, in addition to $305,000 in restitution to the Montrose business association.
While others complained about the length of time Drayman may spend behind bars, a few said they were just happy the process was over and rumors swirling throughout the Mayberry-esque area of Montrose could be put to bed. When Drayman first went to court, he claimed he was innocent and that someone else embezzled the money.
Dale Dawson and others from the shopping park board first brought their concerns to Glendale Police about three years ago.
"There was so much speculation when he said 'I'm going to show who really took the money' and people started questioning how involved was the MSPA board. I thought 'This has got to stop,' but we couldn't say anything," Dawson, MSPA business administrator and owner of Mountain Rose Gifts, said. "It was under investigation."
Andre Ordubegian, president of the board and owner of Copy Network, said he was hoping the board would receive the restitution money as soon as possible.
"I'm hoping that we're going to get our money back, which belongs to the merchants. We need to promote this town. Whatever we get hopefully it goes toward promoting the town and its merchants," Ordubegian said.
But Dawson said he wasn't holding his breath when it came to restitution for the shopping park association, whose finances skyrocketed since Drayman was cut out of the picture.
"Do we think we're going to see the $305,000? Probably not in my lifetime," Dawson said. "As far as I know he has no assets unless he has an offshore account in the Cayman Islands we don't know about."
Normally, restitution must be paid before the end of probation — which in Drayman's case would be five years — and any unpaid amounts are enforceable as a civil judgment, said Deputy District Atty. Susan Schwartz.
Sebu Chatoyan, owner of the Clothing Market, said he felt that the one-year sentence was nothing more than a slap on the wrist and called on Drayman to make a public apology to the Montrose merchants.
"What he did, you know, it's not right," Chatoyan said.
Councilman Ara Najarian, who was Drayman's colleague when he served between 2007 and 2011, and as mayor between April 2008 and April 2009, said he hoped the plea puts an end to an ugly chapter in Glendale's history.
"I hope John can emerge from this a changed man and can make good of his life," Najarian said of the 55-year-old. "He's got a lot of years left. I hope he can do some good for the community."