Start the Presses: Getting away with it

John Drayman, convicted liar and thief, got away with it one more time. The man who should be spending — minimum — a decade in prison for his misdeeds received the sentence of a year in county jail.

Worse, he’ll likely serve only a fraction of it. And the $305,000 in restitution? Ha. The man is not only morally bankrupt, but almost certainly financially as well.

I don’t blame Judge Stephen Marcus for accepting the plea. After all, he had previously rejected two offensively light sentences: the first that included no jail time, and a second that involved a paltry 90 days in the gray-bar hotel. I don’t blame Drayman’s attorney, who clearly fought hard for his client.

The fault lies with the prosecution alone. For some unknown reason, the district attorney’s office felt weak-kneed about their chances despite a Sequoia-sized mountain of paper damning the former councilman and mayor. For the love of all that’s holy, there was documentation that seemed to tie him to the theft of nearly a million dollars!

Imagine what would have happened if he had been caught with $1 million worth of cocaine? Or knockoff Coach handbags? Or even stolen dog food? He would have been sent to one of those grim correctional facilities in the Central Valley for the rest of his days on this earth.

Steal from a pony ride, though, and you get a kiddie punishment.

It’s time we in this country hold dishonest bankers, stockbrokers and politicians to the same standards we hold other criminals. Until we get our priorities straight, we will continue to choke down miscarriages of justice like this.

Drayman did not commit overt acts of violence, true. But his actions were more than a betrayal of his friends, his neighborhood and his city. He bludgeoned, beyond repair in some cases, the reputation of City Hall, making it harder for honest workers to do their jobs.

He attempted to throttle the reputations of anyone or any business that failed to stick to his script of half-truths, prevarications and outright falsehoods. Case in point: the Glendale News-Press.

My reporters have been vilified and harassed, accused by Drayman and his supporters of bias by those unwilling to look beyond their own. One even took the bizarre and classless step of announcing her resignation as a columnist during a City Council meeting.

Despite all of these allegations, and despite the dozens of stories written about Drayman’s legal issues, no error of any substance has even been shown or proved. We were fair, we were accurate and we were right.

To be honest, this storm of destructive criticism was part of the reason I drew back on coverage of the Crescenta Valley. I felt deeply confused about an area that would attack an honest inquiry, worried that the unvarnished truth was an odor too strong for Montrose’s powers-that-be.

As time went on, though, I began to see it as a dysfunctional relationship, a political Stockholm syndrome, if you will. People in Montrose felt so disempowered by City Hall that they were willing to look beyond Drayman’s flaws, ones that look so very, very clear in hindsight.

I get it. I do. He did his best to get me on his side during a two-hour conversation we had a few years ago on Honolulu Avenue. That conversation, more of a monologue really, was filled with protestations of innocence and complaints that our reporting lacked proper context. I wanted to believe him, but the facts did not match his words.

So here are some words that do match up: John Drayman is a felon. He’s admitted so with his own lips. Though the punishment is light compared to his crimes, it is not empty.


DAN EVANS is the editor. After John Drayman’s supporters call to cancel their subscriptions en masse, he can be reached at (818) 637-3234 or

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