John Drayman: Pony rides offered a clue

For all the sophisticated computer forensic evidence and what was described as a 3-foot-high stack of bank records, Glendale police detectives said that during their yearlong embezzlement investigation into John Drayman, it was discrepancies in the reporting of pony ride proceeds at the Montrose Harvest Market that solidified their suspicions.

The revelations, contained in hundreds of pages of grand jury testimony unsealed on Friday, provided a glimpse into how the police investigation unfolded over time as detectives started looking into the former Glendale councilman’s finances.

Earlier this month, Drayman was indicted on 28 counts, including embezzlement, forgery and money laundering.

During the grand jury testimony that led to the indictment, Glendale Police Det. Esperanza Fernandez said Jerry Uebel, who was in charge of pony rides at the market, reported far more revenue from the pony rides than what Drayman did as the middle man for the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., which organized the event.

On Aug. 25, 2010, Drayman reported that the entire Harvest Market made $363.45 for the association, Fernandez said. But according to Uebel’s detailed financial records, the pony rides made $345 that day, which would mean the rest of the operation — food and collectibles vendors — brought in just $18.45.

The discrepancy, Fernandez told jurors, essentially meant that income from the pony rides was “higher than the market proceeds itself” — despite a system in which food vendors gave 10% of their proceeds and collectibles dealers paid a flat fee of $35 to participate in the market.

In fact, from July 2003 to May 2011, Uebel recorded about $63,000 from the pony ride operation, in addition to petting zoo tickets that made about $13,000 for the association. As the market ran the ride and zoo in-house, it should have received 100% of the proceeds.

Fernandez described several similar examples to the grand jury.

After the association relieved Drayman of his money-counting duties in 2011 , the market’s weekly average was about $3,000. Based on that, the market could have made about $1.24 million since 2002, Fernandez testified. Comparing that to Drayman’s count — either starting in 2002, 2004 or 2006 — police determined he may have embezzled roughly $304,900 to $841,900.

Drayman’s attorney, Michael Kraut, maintains his client’s innocence and said in an interview Monday that the former councilman will be exonerated.

But police found other inconsistencies, too. After searching two computers and a thumb-drive seized from Drayman’s residence in May 2011, police found two reports referring to proceeds for several market dates up to January 2011, Fernandez testified.

The reports had the same dates, but different dollar amounts. A forensic study showed the older report included some higher totals than the other.

Glendale Police Det. Miguel Porras testified that several invoices for Drayman’s business, Custom Photo Studios, had fake customer email addresses and phone numbers.

Bob Berger Jr., owner of Montrose Bowl, and Marc Nathanson, a developer who has worked on Glendale projects, testified that photo restorations charged to them never occurred. Forensic evidence showed Drayman created the invoice on his computer in late 2010, but invoices were dated months earlier, Porras said.

Additionally, Drayman told police he had started depositing market proceeds into his personal bank account — without accounting for what was his and what belonged to the shopping park association — beginning in either December 2010 or January 2011, Fernandez testified.

“He felt uncomfortable having all this money lying around, and so he decided that he needed to start putting it into the bank account,” Fernandez said.

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