Former California state lawmaker indicted on federal bribery charges


Mark Ridley-Thomas has long been a fixture in Los Angeles politics, serving on the board of directors from 2008 until he was elected to its city council last year. | Damian Dovarganes / AP Photo

BY ALEXANDER NIEVES

Updated


LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles councilor Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted Wednesday for his role in an alleged bribery program that earned his son a professorship at USC.

Federal Prosecutor’s Office Charged on a 20-point indictment that Ridley-Thomas helped direct funding and contracts for the USC School of Social Work while serving on the Los Angeles County Board of Directors. In return, the then dean of the school, Marilyn Louise Flynn, guaranteed his son, the former state legislator Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, admission to the graduate school and a paid apprenticeship.

Mark Ridley-Thomas also transferred $ 100,000 from a campaign committee through USC and eventually into the account of a nonprofit that employed his son, the indictment reads.

The case crowned an extraordinary day of corruption scandals in California. It came just hours after news that a senior union leader, Alma Hernández, had been charged with embezzlement, tax fraud and perjury and that she had resigned from her post as executive director of SEIU California.

Flynn, who has since retired from USC, was also named in the indictment. In addition to the allegations of bribery, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Flynn have also faced conspiracy, postal fraud, and wire transfer fraud. These charges have a maximum sentence of five to 20 years in prison.

Elderly Ridley-Thomas has long been a fixture in Los Angeles politics, serving on the board of directors from 2008 until he was elected to its city council last year. Ma

He is the third member of the Los Angeles City Council to face federal corruption charges in recent years, after Jose Huizar, whose trial is due to begin next year, and Mitch Englander, who was sentenced to 14 months in prison in January.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas served in the congregation at the beginning of the alleged bribery program, which ran from 2017 to 2018, according to the indictment. In December 2017, he resigned from this position following a sexual harassment investigation, citing health problems.

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