Drayman

Former Glendale councilman John Drayman has settled a $15,000 lawsuit with a firm that claimed it was underpaid to remodel his condominium. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Former City Councilman John Drayman this week agreed to pay $15,000 over 15 years to settle a lawsuit filed by a firm that claimed it was underpaid for remodeling work done on his condominium.

The settlement reached Tuesday is far less than the $98,000 that the contractor, National Fire Systems & Services, had sought in Los Angeles County Superior Court after filing a lien against Drayman's condo.

“It was worth it for me to move on, to end it and move on,” Drayman said in an interview Thursday.

The settlement closes one chapter of Drayman's legal history, but he must still contend with a criminal case brought in May in which he was indicted for allegedly embezzling at least $304,000 from the Montrose Harvest Market.

Last year, National Fire Systems & Services filed a lawsuit asking for the foreclosure of Drayman's North Glendale home to recover the roughly $98,000 it claimed the former councilman owed for remodeling work done after a pipe burst in a neighbor's apartment, damaging his condo.

Drayman paid the company $117,000 for the work, which was originally estimated at about $95,000. But National Fire has said in court documents that Drayman kept ordering changes, racking up the bill.

Sevak Bagumyan, National Fire's attorney, and company Vice President Steve Arezoomanian could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Last month, Drayman asked Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Donna Fields Goldstein to order National Fire to return the $117,000 he paid because state law allows anyone who uses the services of an unlicensed contractor to get a refund.

The two sides had been at odds over when the construction firm was properly licensed to perform the work at the time it was done.

But Drayman's motion has been taken off the table now that the settlement has been hammered out.

Drayman's civil attorney, Marie Berglund, said Thursday that she plans to draft the written agreement in the coming weeks, but the two sides alerted the judge Wednesday that they had settled.

In court documents, National Fire argued that Advanced Development & Investment Inc., a Los Angeles-based developer that has built several affordable housing projects in Glendale, was the lead contractor on the remodel.

If true, Drayman was voting on ADI contracts while the firm was working on his home. Although National Fire and several other ADI subcontractors worked on the project, including a senior designer for the company's building arm, Pacific Housing Diversified, Drayman has steadfastly denied that he knew of the arrangement.

“We will never know if anybody was at fault. No judge ever looked at the merits of the case,” Berglund said. “Nobody won, nobody lost, because it settled.”

Drayman received a $100,000 loan from a friend of another city developer to cover much of what he originally paid to National Fire, but he said he doesn't plan to get a loan for the extra $15,000, which has no payment plan.

Although Drayman has settled the National Fire case, he is still cleaning up another mess regarding his condominium.

After getting in trouble for not getting the proper city permits for the project, Drayman again ran afoul of the city months later when National Fire severely underreported the work, cutting the cost of the required permits pulled with the city's planning department.

Drayman has been working to bring the renovations into compliance with city code for more than a year, having been charged about $2,800 for permits and fines. Building officials have inspected his home several times to verify the work stated in the subsequent permit applications, going so far as to make Drayman cut holes into his walls for the inspections.

On Thursday, Drayman said he plans to have a city inspector come to his home soon to check on his progress. He hit a speed bump this spring when a leaky roof led to more water issues with his condominium.

“It seems lightning can strike twice,” he said.

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