More than a year after he was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars, former Councilman John Drayman could soon get a firm trial date.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus on Tuesday ordered Drayman to return on Sept. 20 with the expectation that his trial would begin within 15 days.
Drayman, who was indicted by a grand jury in May 2012 for allegedly embezzling at least $304,000 over the course of about seven years from the weekly farmers market organized by the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., said outside the courtroom Tuesday that he was relieved the judge set a timetable for starting the trial.
"In a word, 'Finally,'" he said when asked how he felt about the planned date.
FULL COVERAGE: People v. John Drayman
However, Drayman, who maintains his innocence, was aware that court calendars are fluid. He's had a pre-trial conference six times since being indicted. His attorneys — he's had three, including two public defenders — have often asked for extensions to prepare for the case.
Drayman has also waived his right to a speedy trial multiple times.
"It may not happen on this date either, but at least we have a target," he said.
Drayman's indictment, which includes charges of filing false tax statements, fraud, forgery and money laundering, came after an extensive, nearly year-long police investigation that began after board members of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. reported their allegations to police.
Proceeds of the farmers market benefit the shopping area along Honolulu Street, which the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. promotes. But for years, the shopping park was losing money on the market, which since Drayman's departure has experienced skyrocketing revenues.
Drayman, who helped establish the market, collected fees from the vendors and counted the cash before turning it over to the board. At one point, organizers said he hadn't handed over the money for nearly a year.
County Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Schwartz said she is prepared to begin the trial after Sept. 20, adding that jury selection could begin a week after the hearing.
[For the Record, 12:05 p.m.: In an earlier version of this post, Susan Schwartz's last name was incorrectly spelled.]