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LA City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas Federal Corruption Trial has Begun


Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas began his federal corruption trial last week. He was indicted in 2021 on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and bribery. 

He has been suspended from the council since October 2021. 

The councilman has pled not guilty to the charges against him. 

Where did the Charges come from?

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas alleged corruption case revolves around his son and the University of Southern California. 

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the son of the councilman, was a state assemblymember from 2013 until 2017 when he stepped down from the position citing health reasons. 

However, an investigation later found that the assemblymember likely sexually harassed staffers

Following his resignation, his father attempted to help him with a career change and used familiar grounds to do so. 

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas’ district included USC, a school where he received his doctorate in social ethics. In addition, he had also appointed the dean of that school, Marilyn Flynn, to a position that oversaw LA County’s Department of Children of Family Services. 

Thus, the alleged deal between Ridley-Thomas was for Flynn to give his son a full scholarship to receive a master’s degree and a faculty job in exchange for the councilman to vote in favor of contracts that could benefit USC’s School of Social Work. 

In 2018, Flynn provided the former State Assemblymember with a full-ride scholarship and a $50,000-a-year faculty job. Councilman Ridley-Thomas voted on three contracts that benefited the school, according to prosecutors

In addition to the exchange, the Los Angeles Councilman wanted to wire money from his political campaigns to his son’s nonprofit. He allegedly used USC to do so. 

According to court documents, Councilman Ridley-Thomas donated $100,000 to Flynn’s school, who then allegedly convinced USC to donate it to Sebastian Ridley-Thomas’ nonprofit organization. 

What’s Next

Although Flynn pled guilty to all charges against her, Ridley-Thomas did the opposite. His trial officially began last Tuesday but will likely take some time to reach a verdict. 

Since his indictment, the Councilman has raised over $1 million in donations to fund his legal team. It helped him pay for lawyers who have won cases for big companies such as Google and Kaiser Permanente. 

We’ll make sure to update you on the status of the trial once it truly gets underway. Until then, keep up with BOMA on the Frontline for the latest news in Greater Los Angeles.

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