Former LA City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas Found Guilty In USC Corrpution Case
‘Ridley-Thomas finally found charges he couldn’t beat’
By Evan Symon, March 30, 2023 5:40 pm
Former Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was found guilty in the USC corruption case on Thursday, with the jury convicting him of one count of bribery, one count of bribery, one count of mail fraud, and four counts of wire fraud.
The case against Ridley-Thomas, who has served as a Los Angeles City Councilman, Assemblyman, state Senator, and LA County Supervisor at different times between 1991 and 2022, dates back to the mid 2010s. According to the indictment, Ridley-Thomas gave $100,000 to the USC School of Social Work through his political campaign fund. In turn, the school’s dean, Marilyn Flynn, sent the money to a think tank run by his son, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas. His son, who was a state Assemblyman from 2013 until 2017 when he resigned after sexual harassment allegations came to light, was to get benefits from USC, such as a graduate school admission and a scholarship, in exchange for the elder Ridley-Thomas to support contracts between the County and USC.
While Ridley-Thomas has had a long history of controversies, none of them ever stuck long enough to actually threaten a removal from office. However, the USC scandal changed all that. In 2019 the investigation into his son brought authorities to investigate the elder Ridley-Thomas, and by October 2021, he was indicted on one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery, two counts of honest services mail fraud, and fifteen counts of honest services wire fraud. This was enough for the City Council to vote to suspend him. While his suspended seat was finally ended for good in March 2022 when Herb Wesson was brought in on an appointed basis, the case against Ridley-Thomas played out in court. Meanwhile, Flynn pleaded guilty in September 2022 to one count of bribery, and is currently waiting on sentencing which could bring her up to ten years of prison.
That led to him being found guilty on Thursday following five days of jury deliberation. While Ridley-Thomas did beat 11 counts of wire fraud and a count of mail fraud, he was still ultimately found guilty of one count of bribery, one count of bribery, one count of honest services mail fraud, and four counts of honest services wire fraud.
Ridley-Thomas Found Guilty On 7 Counts
While Ridley-Thomas remained unemotional when the charges were read on Thursday and his legal team not commenting, those who investigated him and tried him in court did.
“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,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada in a statement on Thursday. “Today’s verdict sends a clear message to public officials that my office will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who abuse their power and thereby breach the public trust.”
Donald Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office added, “Public officials are elected to be a voice and a vote for the people they’re paid to represent, not for their own personal gain. Allegations of public malfeasance must and will be addressed by the FBI before further corrupt actions erode confidence in our public institutions.”
Other commentators on Thursday noted that Ridley-Thomas, now facing major jail time, has been a long time coming for the long-time former lawmaker.
“Ridley-Thomas finally found charges he couldn’t beat,” explained Los Angeles law researcher Jill Rodriguez to the Globe on Thursday. “And he is now facing major jail time. There is a good chance that he will now spend the rest of his life behind bars. For many lawmakers, the time in office is your life’s work. But, thanks to these scandals, Ridley-Thomas just shattered it. Any government building that was to be named after him or plaque going up, or other honors are now gone. He just squandered it over a stupid bribery attempt.”
Following the jury’s decision, U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer scheduled an August 14 sentencing hearing. Ridley-Thomas will be facing five years in federal prison on the conspiracy count, up to 10 years in federal prison for the bribery count, and up to 20 years in federal prison for each honest services fraud count, for a possible total of up to 115 years in jail.
3 thoughts on “Former LA City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas Found Guilty In USC Corrpution Case”
Why do Californians want to keep electing Democrats?
The honest Californians don’t want to, Jaye. The dishonest ones have rigged the system. Look at what they have done to Donald Trump.
We owe thanks to the anonymous USC accountant who first noticed the improper pass-through. Normally, when someone notices a transaction like this, the whistleblower is chilled or silenced – and these transactions are very hard to detect. Old USC would have covered-it up, but this only came to light in the wake of the Admissions-buying scandal and a brief moment of transparency. What’s sad is this type of pay-to-play is very common in California and in spite of the enormous resources devoted to law enforcement, this type of crime is very common. Look at how far Willie Brown and his proteges Gavin and Kamala went.