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John Drayman: Grand jury testimony paints picture of lax financial oversight

Montrose Shopping Park Assn. didn't closely monitor Drayman's collection of the proceeds from the Sunday market.

May 21, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
(Raul Roa/Staff…)

Grand jury testimony in the embezzlement case against John Drayman — unsealed Friday — painted a picture of lax oversight of the former city councilman’s collection and accounting of proceeds from the Montrose Harvest Market, an operation that consistently lost money until more stringent controls were implemented. 

During his years of running the Sunday market, from which Drayman allegedly embezzled at least $304,000, the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. largely took a hands-off approach to monitoring income, taking at face value his explanations for lower-than-expected income.

Even as he delayed turning in thousands of dollars collected from vendors — at one point by up to 11 months — the board of directors declined to push Drayman for answers beyond a few tepid requests, according to the testimony.

That all changed when a new Montrose Shopping Park Assn. treasurer — Dale Dawson, who now serves as the association’s executive director— started taking a hard look at the market’s revenue statements, and demanded Drayman hand over the vendor payments, witnesses testified.

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The hard line approach allegedly triggered a series of fraudulent moves and other desperate attempts by Drayman to get nearly a year’s worth of revenue owed to the association, the testimony stated.

Drayman was indicted earlier this month on 28 counts, including embezzlement, perjury, fraud, money laundering and other charges.

For years, Drayman was the only one who consistently counted all the money made at the weekly Montrose Harvest Market, according to witness testimony.

He would then compare the money to merchant sales receipts at his home. He then handed the proceeds over to the treasurer of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. 

But according to the hundreds of pages of grand jury testimony, not all the money he collected was turned over to the association. He also took several weeks to turn the money over and lied about market revenues, according to the grand jury testimony leading up to his May 8 indictment. 

Weeks turned into months and by March 2011, he was allegedly nearly one year behind. It wasn’t until then that shopping park board members started inquiring more often about the money. They had asked Drayman to pick up the pace in 2008 and 2009, but they told the grand jury that he said it took several weeks to reconcile the proceeds.

They also knew he was busy, particularly during his reelection bid in April. 

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