Mark Ridley-Thomas Sentenced to Over Three Years in Prison
Former Los Angeles City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas has officially been sentenced to over three years in prison after being found guilty of corruption, bribery, and fraud.
Ridley-Thomas spent over thirty years in public office, serving on the LA City Council, LA County Board of Supervisors, and the California State Legislature.
Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas's alleged corruption case revolves around his son and the University of Southern California.
Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the son of the councilman, was a state assembly member from 2013 until 2017 when he stepped down from the position citing health reasons.
However, an investigation later found that the assembly member 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 City 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.
As a result, Mark Ridley-Thomas was convicted of seven felonies:
- One count of bribery
- One count of conspiracy
- Four counts of honest services wire fraud
- One count of mail fraud
The long-time Los Angeles politician was sentenced to 3½ years in prison earlier this week. Additionally, he was fined $30,000 and will have a three-year supervised release.
While Federal Probation officials recommended only 18 months in prison, the judge believed that these were “serious crimes” and that Ridley-Thomas “has not accepted responsibility and has shown no remorse.”
This has sent a message that corruption from politicians will be taken seriously in Los Angeles and that there will be major repercussions for “monetizing one’s office.”
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