OAN Geraldyn Berry
UPDATED 10:54 AM – Friday, March 31, 2023
Democrat City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas has been found guilty by the United States District Court of seven felonies, including conspiracy, bribery, and fraud.
This was in relation to a scheme in which prosecutors claimed he offered to assist in directing a multimillion-dollar government contract to the University of Southern California, if his son received a scholarship and a teaching position.
This comes as a shock as the longtime Los Angeles politician was involved in civil rights and racial issues.
From 1997 to 2018, Marilyn Flynn served as the head of USC’s School of Social Work. She pleaded guilty to one count of bribery in the case last year.
According to the prosecution, she devised a plan to use the university to transfer $100,000 Ridley-Thomas donated from campaign funds to a nonprofit managed by his son.
U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada made a statement.
“When elected leaders engage in acts of corruption, our community suffers immense damage. Ridley-Thomas engaged in a corrupt conspiracy with a university dean to steer taxpayer-funded contracts to the school in exchange for benefits for his son,” Estrada said.
Prosecutors claim that Ridley-Thomas, who was a county supervisor at the time, promised to support county contracts for USC’s School of Social Work in exchange for aiding his son, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas. These contracts had the potential to bring the institution millions of dollars in new revenue. The school was operating with a significant financial deficit at the time.
State assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas stepped down from his position around the end of 2017 amid claims that he had made an unwanted sexual advance toward a Capitol staff member. Prosecutors claimed that the $100,000 was given to his business, the Policy, Research & Practice Initiative.
Even though being a student and a teacher would go against school policy, the son later received a $26,000 graduate scholarship for 2018 and was given a paid teaching job with a $50,000 salary, according to authorities.
Mark Ridley-Thomas was placed on administrative leave by the Los Angeles City Council in October 2021, not long after he had been accused. Council President Paul Krekorian declared in a statement that the position was vacant per municipal law as a result of his conviction on felony charges.
Ridley-Thomas’s sentencing will take place in August.
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