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ADI linked to job at Glendale official's home

The company, which is accused of bilking Glendale of millions in tax dollars, worked on Councilman John Drayman's condo, records show.

March 19, 2011|By Melanie Hicken, Los Angeles Times

A senior design manager employed by Advanced Development & Investment Inc. helped oversee renovations at Glendale City Councilman John Drayman's condo at the same time the firm was accused of bilking the city of millions in tax dollars, documents show.

Drayman said he was unaware at the time of ADI connections to anyone hired to perform the renovations, which were needed after a pipe burst and caused major flood damage.

ADI, a developer of affordable housing, is under federal investigation over allegations that it submitted fraudulent bills to cities and transferred tens of millions of dollars to personal accounts. In Glendale, where the City Council approved more than $33 million for four ADI projects since 2005, the potential fraud is estimated at millions of dollars.

Six ADI subcontractors worked on Drayman's condo renovation last summer, according to a list of subcontractors provided by Drayman. He said he had been referred to Glendale-based National Fire Systems, the lead contractor for the job, by an ADI manager, Khachik Zargarian, whom he identified as a longtime friend.

Drayman said he had no idea at the time that National Fire or the other companies were subcontractors to ADI, adding that many of the firms hired had done work throughout Glendale.

Faxes between ADI and its subcontractors suggest that ADI was involved in guiding the renovations.

In three faxes dated June 25, July 30 and Aug. 4, Beth Navarrete, a senior project design manager at ADI's construction arm, Pacific Housing Diversified Inc., gave direction to a subcontractor working on Drayman's condo.

The faxes are on Pacific Housing Diversified letterhead and include a fax number for a former ADI office.

In the faxes, Navarrete gave orders on changes as intricate as changes in grout and tile color and discussed details of fireplace design.

"The sample of kitchen tiles was disapproved by the client," she wrote in a June 25 fax titled "Condo." Drayman said he had no idea Navarrete was an ADI employee at the time. He said he learned that months later when he was told by an attorney hired by David Pasternak, the receiver appointed by a judge to oversee ADI's assets during the divorce proceedings of two company principals.

"My interaction with her had mostly to do with finishes — with floor samples, selections, stains, paints, grout, tile, selection of this one item versus another item," Drayman said. "I just believed that she was someone that National had hired."

Drayman said he spoke with Navarrete through her personal e-mail and phone number.

"There was no indication for me that she was doing anything untoward, and I don't know that she was," he said. "To me, it is essentially no different than any of the other subs that National hired that may or may not have worked for ADI on their projects."

Navarrete, who is still employed by the company, could not be reached for comment.

National Fire, whose president said the firm had not done a residential remodel before Drayman's project, lacked a license to do such work until September, according to state records.

Drayman has said he picked National Fire in part because the company had agreed to let him pay over a period of months, and believed it had proper licensing to do the work. The project cost more than $100,000, Drayman said.

Drayman said he has paid National Fire for most of the work but is still in talks regarding $10,000 to $30,000 in disputed charges with one subcontractor.

melanie.hicken@latimes.com

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