I got the call at about 11 p.m. Tuesday night.
"Drayman is out," said the voice on the other end of the line. "Keep me out of it, but I think Drayman is out."
After years of investigations, thousands of hours of work by police and prosecutors, court delay after court delay, the infamous John Drayman, the Pony Ride Kid, the Montrose Mafioso, got just eight days in the gray bar hotel.
At the time of his indictment in 2012, prosecutors claimed that he stole between $304,000 and $880,000 from the Montrose Harvest Market during a seven-year period — a period that included a stint as Glendale's mayor.
It has been a sad chapter for the Crescenta Valley. At a point not long ago, Drayman represented the hope that Montrose would finally get a fair shake on the council dais. Now, mention of his name makes people's faces scrunch up like they've smelled bad cheese.
This latest insult, this miscarriage of justice, takes the wounded heart of Honolulu Avenue and shatters it into 304,000 pieces.
And the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department couldn't look more politically tone deaf. Think about it: 18 hours after Drayman's release to house arrest, former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo received 12 years in prison and was ordered to pay about $9 million in restitution.
I guess John is lucky he didn't steal directly from the city treasury. He might have gotten a month.
As my colleagues on the editorial board point out, if Rizzo were to serve the same percentage of time behind bars as Drayman did, he would have a matching ankle bracelet by Labor Day. Part of me hopes that happens, as the public outrage would be so loud that Sacramento would have to get off its collective butts and do something about it.
About that: If this bothers you, call or email our local state representatives and demand they stiffen penalties for white-collar crimes committed by elected officials. Perhaps John ducked the guillotine here, but we should all be collectively ashamed if anything like this ever happens again.
Here's that information:
Assemblyman Mike Gatto
State Sen. Carol Liu
Gov. Jerry Brown
Though Drayman's catch and release closes one chapter of this sordid drama, it is not the end. Here are a few things we'd like to know.
• What in the world did he do with all the money?
Prosecutors claimed Drayman stole as much as $880,000 between 2004 and 2011. Where is it? We can presume at least some of it went to pay off his debts and for living expenses. Grand jury testimony revealed Drayman once paid $1,500 in cash for a classic car — all in small bills.
Given he made about $40,000 a year, not including benefits, on the City Council, and had no other obvious means of income during that seven-year period, perhaps that's where most of it went. (For the sake of argument, the low figure, $304,000, would give him an extra $43,000 or so a year, on average, while the high figure would give him an extra $126,000 or so. Enough to live comfortably, but not in a let's-take-a-jet-to-Aruba sort of way.)
However, it seems likely not all of it was spent. There are no public records indicating any part of this money was recovered. Is it in a shoe box somewhere off Angeles Crest Highway? If any of John's neighbors notice any ice on his ankle bracelet, please give us a ring.
• Are there any federal charges pending?
Robert Rizzo received 33 months for federal income tax evasion. Drayman admitted to lying on his state tax returns… Was he, weirdly, honest with the Feds? We don't know. The IRS slapped a $19,000 lien against Drayman's condo in 2013, long after his indictment. However, the federal tax man will not share why this was done.
• And what happened to ADI?
This may be stretching the memory banks a bit, but the whole of this saga began in 2010, when a housing developer, Advanced Development and Investment, came under fire for allegedly overcharging Glendale and other cities for its affordable housing projects.
An ADI subcontractor, National Fire, stated in a 2012 civil court filing against the former councilman that ADI was partially footing the bill for work on Drayman's condo. In exchange for what? For looking the other way on overcharges? Pushing the ADI contracts through?
The lawsuit does not make any such claims, and there have been no state or federal criminal charges made against Drayman in relation to ADI. Will there be? Is there anything even pending any further? We don't know.
It just means we need to keep digging. And dig we shall.