National Fire Systems & Services — whose remodel of former Councilman John Drayman's condominium continues to drag out in court over claims of nonpayment — is claiming that the firm actually in charge of the project was the affordable housing developer accused of bilking Glendale and other cities out of tens of millions of dollars.
If true, the claim — listed for the first time in recent Los Angeles County Superior Court records — would bolster the case that Drayman knew National Fire was working for the developer, Advanced Development and Investment Inc., at the same time he was sitting on the City Council and thus able to influence the firm's agreements with the city.
Drayman, reached by phone Friday, denied that ADI worked as his general contractor.
“This is a diversion, all at the last second,” he said.
ADI, which had several projects in South Glendale supported by Drayman, allegedly cheated Glendale out of millions of dollars via false and inflated construction bills.
In recent court filings, National Fire claims ADI and its construction arm, Pacific Housing Diversified, “was the general contractor involved in every aspect of the renovation/repairs to [Drayman's condo], including, but not limited to, designing, selecting subcontractors, managing personnel on site, purchasing necessary material, retaining direction and control over all aspects of the project and directly dealing with [Drayman].”
Drayman's civil attorney, Marie Berglund, responded in her own court filings that National Fire has showed no proof that ADI was the general contractor. Rather, National Fire acted as a general contractor without a license and “illegally recorded an invalid mechanic's lien.”
National Fire and Drayman remain locked in a battle over payment for the extensive remodel.
The company filed a $98,000-lien in April 2011, about 200 days after Drayman says he stopped the project. But mechanic's liens must be filed within 90 days of the project completion date, and National Fire claims it filed the paperwork on time.
National Fire wants about $212,000, plus interest, for the remodel, but Drayman has only paid about $117,000 and refuses to pay more.
Glendale has sued ADI for fraud, alleging that the company falsified bills for several affordable housing projects.
As connections between ADI and National Fire, which worked as an ADI subcontractor on the affordable housing projects, were revealed last year, Drayman narrowly lost his reelection bid.
And two months ago, he was indicted on 28 charges, including that he embezzled between $304,000 and $880,000 from a weekly farmers market he helped organize to promote Montrose businesses.
Steve Arezoomanian, vice president of National Fire, told the Los Angeles County grand jury that issued the indictment that when he was looking for general contract work, ADI officials connected him to Drayman. But because he didn't have experience, ADI guided the revamp.
In a court declaration, Drayman said he didn't know National Fire wasn't a general contractor when he signed a $95,000 contract with the company in March 2010.
National Fire didn't get a general contractor's license until about seven months after the contract for Drayman's project was signed.
The foreclosure lawsuit was set to go to trial in July, but is now scheduled for November.
A pre-trial hearing for the separate embezzlement case is set for September.