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MSPA members respond to Drayman's plea deal

Reaction to Drayman case agreement ranges from relief to disappointment.

March 13, 2014|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Some Montrose business owners expressed disappointment with the sentence former Councilman John Drayman has agreed to receive, calling the one-year deal he reached with prosecutors insufficient for his crimes.

"I don't think the sentence fits the crime," said Ken Grayson, owner of Grayson's Tune Town and board member of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., the business promotions group that Drayman stole from for seven years. "I think it should have been more severe, especially after all the embarrassment that was caused to both the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. and the city of Glendale because he was a public official."

Authorities have said Drayman embezzled at least $304,000 from a weekly harvest market run by the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. on Sundays along Honolulu Avenue. Drayman collected vendor payments, but not did not return the full amounts to the association. At one point he didn't turn in money for 11 months.

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Many business owners testified before a grand jury two years ago that they were afraid to come forward with their concerns because Drayman was a councilman. When Drayman pleaded guilty to embezzlement on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, his plea did not specify the amount stolen.

Drayman pleaded guilty for committing two other felonies in addition to embezzlement: filing false tax returns with the State of California Franchise Tax Board and perjury by declaration. He also has agreed to pay about $14,000 to the state for the tax fraud, which he used to hide his embezzlement, in addition to $305,000 in restitution to the Montrose business association.

While others complained about the length of time Drayman may spend behind bars, a few said they were just happy the process was over and rumors swirling throughout the Mayberry-esque area of Montrose could be put to bed. When Drayman first went to court, he claimed he was innocent and that someone else embezzled the money.

Dale Dawson and others from the shopping park board first brought their concerns to Glendale Police about three years ago.

"There was so much speculation when he said 'I'm going to show who really took the money' and people started questioning how involved was the MSPA board. I thought 'This has got to stop,' but we couldn't say anything," Dawson, MSPA business administrator and owner of Mountain Rose Gifts, said. "It was under investigation."

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