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Peer says Drayman charges feel 'like a punch in the stomach'

Some supporters remain stalwart

others express disappointment in former Councilman's indictment.

May 08, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Former Glendale City Councilman John Drayman arrives at the C. S. Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles to be arraigned on charges that he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the popular Montrose Harvest Market.
Former Glendale City Councilman John Drayman arrives… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

Reaction to charges Tuesday that former Councilman John Drayman embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the popular Montrose Harvest Market ranged from shock to disappointment.

Perhaps the most pointed reaction to the charges contained in the indictment — unsealed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court — were from those active in North Glendale and La Crescenta, which have long been bastions of political support for Drayman.

“It just really feels like a punch in the stomach,” said Steve Pierce, a community “ambassador” for the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., which operates the Harvest Market.

While he was once a Drayman supporter, the former councilman’s fall from grace had let him and others down.

“He was such a hero up here,” Pierce said. “There’s a lot that he did and now everyone thinks of him as a crook.”

Ken Grayson, president of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., said he was glad the charges were aired after almost a year of board members biting their tongues about the investigation. Allegations from the board sparked the Glendale police investigation.

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“John Drayman did a number of very positive things for the Montrose Shopping Park, but he also did some very improper things,” he said. “I’m glad it’s finally caught up to him.”

After setting up an oversight committee to track the shopping park’s revenues and expenses, the association reported 2011 income of nearly $140,000 from the market, more than the roughly $40,000 that was originally expected. For 2012, officials expect the market to make about $130,000.

Drayman was indicted in Los Angeles Superior Court on charges that he embezzled between $304,000 and $880,000 over seven years from a weekly farmers market that he helped organize in North Glendale up until last year.

Drayman pleaded not guilty to the charges, which also include forgery, money laundering and filing falsified tax returns.

Reaction among his former colleagues on the City Council tended more to disappointment.

“I’m very disappointed and sad,” said Mayor Frank Quintero. “You always hope that someone you’ve known hasn’t been involved in anything illegal.”

During the yearlong investigation, Councilman Ara Najarian said his colleagues were kept in the dark.

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