Feds indict Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas
Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas
Bribery conviction could mean years in Federal penitentiary
LOS ANGELES (MNS) — Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and the former dean of the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work are facing corruption charges following a federal indictment alleging bribery while Ridley-Thomas served on the county Board of Supervisors, the Compton Herald learned late Wednesday.
Ridley-Thomas is alleged to have conspired with Marilyn Louise Flynn to receive substantial benefits from the university for a relative in exchange for his support of county contracts and lucrative contract amendments with the university while he served on the county board. The relative in question is Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the councilman’s son, according to a local daily newspaper.
The 20-count indictment filed in Los Angeles federal court alleges that Sebastian Ridley-Thomas received “graduate school admission to USC, a full-tuition scholarship, a paid professorship, and a mechanism to funnel” campaign funds to Mark Ridley-Thomas using a nonprofit operated by Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, who was fired by the university after questions were raised about his hiring, the newspaper said.
“This indictment charges a seasoned lawmaker who allegedly abused the public’s trust by taking official actions to benefit his family member and himself,” acting US Atty. Tracy L. Wilkison said in a statement. “The corrupt activities alleged in the indictment were facilitated by a major university’s high-ranking administrator whose desire for funding apparently trumped notions of integrity and fair play.”
Kristi K. Johnson, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said the investigation should send a message to public officials that government contracts are not for sale.
“This indictment reaffirms the FBI’s commitment to rooting out corruption by holding accountable those who abuse the trust of the people they serve and who exploit their powerful positions to obtain benefits at the expense of taxpayers,” said Johnson.
After term limits ended Ridley-Thomas’ tenure on the Board of Supervisors, he won a seat on the City Council in the 10th District. In a statement, Council President Nury Martinez said she was “disappointed” by the news of the charges.
“While the alleged crimes took place while Mr. Ridley-Thomas sat on the Board of Supervisors, these charges are serious and the Council will need to take appropriate action,” Martinez said.
Ridley-Thomas served on the board in the Second District from 2008 to 2020. Prior to that served three terms on the Council in the 8th district from 1991 to 2002.
At the time of the alleged scheme, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was serving in the state Assembly, but he was facing sexual harassment allegations and was “significantly in debt,” according to prosecutors. He resigned from the Assembly in December 2017.
Both defendants face one charge each of conspiracy and bribery, and they also face multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, the Federal release said.
The release added that each conspiracy count could result in up to five years in federal prison, while each bribery count carries a maximum of 10 years in federal prison. Each fraud charge could result in up to 20 years in prison.
Ridley-Thomas, 66, and Flynn, 83, both of Los Angeles, will be arraigned in United States District Court at an undetermined date.
Metropolis News Service.