Like a lot of people in Glendale, I have been watching former City Councilman John Drayman, wondering how it is that someone goes from a position of esteem to wearing the blue jumpsuit of a jail inmate.
His fall has not been a rapid descent. Last year, when things began to unravel for Drayman, I backed off from making any comment because it felt like I would be dog-piling on an already unfortunate situation. But with a litany of accusations — including embezzlement, filing false tax returns, money laundering, forgery, and more — it's highly unlikely this columnist's opinion is going to be seen as character assassination.
Unfortunately, his tangled tapestry of trouble is not his burden to bear alone. Some of those who supported and trusted Drayman, including those on the City Council, have commented in the press on how they may be viewed as less ethical merely by association. I'd say that none of us should make that a concern for those currently serving the interests of our city. As I've said before, I may not agree with every decision, but I do hold to a belief that our public servants are doing their best.
As far as the alleged embezzlement of as much as $880,000 from the Montrose Harvest Market over the course of roughly seven years is concerned, it seems almost incomprehensible that other administrative members in Montrose Shopping Park Assn. did not figure out sooner that so much money was missing.
Unless you hang around in Warren Buffet's circle of friends, that kind of money seems too substantial to overlook. But if you divide the total amount taken over the many months it allegedly occurred, the market would end up shorted somewhere in the vicinity $3,619 a month, or about $900 a week — assuming the market made the same amount each month and the stolen amount was the more conservative estimate of $304,000. That weekly amount is less conspicuous, and therefore an organization could very well overlook it.
I'm not saying this is what Drayman did; but this is how embezzlers typically get away with their crimes for so long. They take an amount small enough that it goes unnoticed for a while. But eventually, if they don't stop, that small number grows until it cannot go without someone sniffing it out.
I've been directly affected by three people who embezzled money. I even caught one red-handed. Two of them ended up costing me in excess of $100,000 in combined lost wages and bonus money, and the third took a substantial amount of money from my father's design business.
They all suffered consequences because a money trail can be tracked.
Unlike running a red light, which can be disputed even with a photograph, the crime of stealing money over a long period of time leaves a lot of evidence, which is not so easy to discredit. If I were Drayman, that might be my biggest concern these days.
But before any of this is taken as a trial and conviction of Drayman, it's important to note that on Wednesday, his attorney, Michael Kraut, pledged to reveal the true story of the missing funds during the trial. He also claimed that others, who he declined to identify, were responsible for the embezzlement.
“Cross examination is the true seeker of justice,” Kraut said.
I agree with Drayman's attorney and likewise believe that the truth does indeed set every man free.
Even though it's their right, I'm curious why Drayman and his attorney would want to wait for a trial to start publicly setting the record straight. So I contacted Drayman and let him know he could use this column as an opportunity to address those he had served for so long.
I certainly want to hear his side of the story — I assume there are a number of other people around Glendale bewildered by this case. If the allegations are false, I let him know that this is where he is free to supply facts that might set the record straight.
So far, I've heard nothing.
But my line remains open to Drayman. As does my willingness and desire to report whatever truths exist about the missing money.
GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.