L.A. councilman indicted by feds will ‘immediately step back’ from council duties – but refuses to resign


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LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said he would “immediately step back” from his involvement in council meetings and committees, but will not resign, days after being indicted on federal charges.

On October 13th, Ridley-Thomas was indicted alongside Marilyn Louise Flynn, the former dean of USC’s School of Social Work, in an alleged “bribery scheme”, according to the Department of Justice’s press release on the indictments.

According to the indictments against the two, Ridley-Thomas allegedly used his influence with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to support contracts that benefitted the school – such as contracts to provide services for the Department of Children and Family Services and Probation Department, as well as amending a contract with the Department of Mental Health that would afford the school millions in revenue.

In exchange, according to the indictments, a relative of Ridley-Thomas reportedly graduate school admission at the university, a full scholarship, a paid professorship, and Ridley-Thomas would allegedly attain campaign contributions via an NPO operated by the relative that the university to donate funds to and funnel to the councilmember.

This alleged scheme that took place between 2017 and 2018 resulted in both Ridley-Thomas and Flynn being charged with one count of conspiracy, bribery, two counts of honest services mail fraud, and 15 counts honest services wire fraud.

Conspiracy carries a maximum of five years in prison, bribery carries a 10-year maximum, and each of the mail and wire fraud charges carries a 20-year maximum.

Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy Wilkison stated the following about the charges levied against Ridley-Thomas and Flynn:

“This indictment charges a seasoned lawmaker who allegedly abused the public’s trust by taking official actions to benefit his family member and himself. 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.

Public corruption cases are among the most important matters we pursue, and we will continue to investigate and prosecute whenever public officials and others entrusted with taxpayer funds break the law.”

Kristi Johnson, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said that these charges should “send a message” that the likes of government contracts cannot be bought or sold:

“This 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.”

On October 18th, Ridley-Thomas wrote to his fellow council members in a letter that he intends to fight against what he referred to as “outrageous allegations” outlined in the indictment against him, but that he’ll “immediately step back” from participating in council meetings and committees in the meantime.

However, he is not resigning, noting that at some point “at the earliest appropriate time” he will resume his duties within the council.

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We at Law Enforcement Today previously reported on this alleged scandal that the councilman was involved in earlier in October. 

Here’s that previous report. 


Corrupt democrat Los Angeles city councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas indicted in federal corruption probe

(Originally published October 14th, 2021)

The New York Post is reporting that a high-level Los Angeles Democrat has been indicted in a federal corruption probe.

Councilman Mark Ridley Thomas, 66 along with former dean Marilyn Louise Flynn, 83 are expected to be arraigned in the next few days on charges of conspiracy, bribery, honest services mail fraud and honest services wire fraud.

The charges carry decades in prison if they are convicted, although honestly at their age, the chances of any type of lengthy sentence is questionable.

The indictments stem from a scheme whereby Ridley-Thomas and a former dean at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work hatched a deal to direct lucrative contracts to the school in exchange for a scholarship for his son, as well as a professorship.

In a statement, Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison 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.

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,” she said in a statement.

Prosecutors allege that in May 2017, when Ridley-Thomas was then serving as a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, he told Flynn that one of his relatives had an interest in attending graduate school at USC. Although the relative isn’t specifically identified in the indictment, details seem to match that of his son, Sebastian.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was a member of the California state Assembly between the years of 2013 and 2017, however was forced to resign as an internal investigation of possible sexual harassment was underway.

The results of this investigation, which ended in 2019, showed that Sebastian Ridley-Thomas had likely engaged in making unwanted sexual advances toward a Capitol staffer.

The statement from Wilkison’s office showed that the elder Thomas “allegedly wanted to help secure paid employment for his relative to minimize any public fallout for them both in the wake of the sudden resignation from office.”

According to the indictment, the elder Ridley-Thomas gave Flynn a “heads up” about Sebastian, whereby a week later she emailed a colleague at the university, stating that she “intend[ed] to open every door for” Sebastian, the now disgraced ex government official.

In a case of quid pro quo, Flynn told Mark Ridley-Thomas that she would agree to help Sebastian receive a joint master’s degree from the USC School of Social Work and School of Public Policy.

In exchange, she wanted him to assist the university in landing contracts with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Probation Department—as well as a demand to alter an existing telehealth contract “in order to bolster the School of Social Work’s budget,” which was in the throes of “a multi-million-dollar” deficit.

The indictment continues to allege that while the elder Ridley-Thomas steered contracts through the Board of Supervisors, Flynn was working to get his son through the master’s degree programs “without adhering to the standard sequence of coursework.”

In order to facilitate this, Flynn, the former dean facilitated the creation of an “entire online curriculum which had never existed previously for this program.”

Later that fall, both Ridley-Thomas’s lobbied for Sebastian to receive a paid professorship. At some point Flynn became aware that the elder Ridley-Thomas had convinced another official at the university to support changing the telehealth contract, which led to her directing Sebastian receive a $26,000 scholarship for both the spring and summer terms in 2018. 

She also arranged for a paid teaching position which carried with it a $50,000 salary, although being both a student and professor violated USC policy.

Following up, in April 2018 Flynn “agreed to funnel $100,000” in Mark Ridley-Thomas campaign funds through USC to an unidentified nonprofit “to be operated by” Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

In a Wednesday statement, the University of Southern California said it became aware of the $100,000 payment in the summer of 2018, whereby they reported it to federal prosecutors at that time and have “fully cooperated” with the investigation since that time.

“Marilyn Flynn has not been employed by the university since September 2018,” the statement read. “We will continue to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and must limit comments because this is a pending criminal matter.”

Ridley-Thomas is widely considered to be one of the most powerful and best-known politicians in Southern California. Serving his fourth nonconsecutive term on the LA City Council, he chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee. He has also served on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and served one term each in the state Assembly and the state Senate.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribunethe scandal involving Flynn and Ridley-Thomas is but the latest in a series of missteps at the university.

They cite the former medical school dean, who was exposed as a drug addict who used methamphetamine, heroin, and other drugs, as well as a longtime campus gynecologist who was accused of sexual misconduct by hundreds of USC alumnae, which led to a $1.1 billion settlement, the largest-ever sexual abuse payout by an institution of higher education.

USC was also involved in the college admissions bribery scandal, which took down actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to admissions advisors to have their children falsely admitted to the university as athletes.

Flynn’s attorney said that her client “has not committed any crime, and we believe that the evidence in this case will ultimately support this conclusion.”

She called Flynn a veteran academic who “worked tirelessly for the involvement and betterment of the social welfare network in Los Angeles and around the country.” Dean served as dean at USC for 21 years. According to the indictment, she was “removed” from her position around June 2018.

Federal prosecutors were tipped off after the Los Angeles Times found that USC had provided the scholarship to Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and appointed him as a professor at the same time his father funneled campaign money through the university which ended up in a nonprofit run by Sebastian.

The Times said that USC alerted federal prosecutors about the unusual arrangement after an internal investigation. It also noted that Flynn was under enormous budget pressure at the time of the scheme with Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Federal authorities said in announcing the indictment that Ridley-Thomas would be allowed to voluntarily surrender to the U.S. attorney’s office; Flynn’s attorney confirmed she will also surrender.

This is just the latest in a series of scandals to plague the LA City Council. Former councilman Jose Huizar is awaiting trial on racketeering, bribery, money laundering and other charges. That scheme involves multiple real estate developers who were seeking to build projects in his district when he served on the council.

Another councilman, Mitchell Englander is serving a 14-month bid in jail after he pleaded guilty for lying to federal authorities about cash and other gifts he received in casinos in Las Vegas and near Palm Springs.


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