Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas has been indicted on federal corruption charges over an alleged bribery scheme stemming from Ridley-Thomas’ time serving on the county Board of Supervisors, prosecutors announced Wednesday, Deadline reported.
Mark Ridley-Thomas is also the father of former Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), who resigned from the Assembly in 2017 after an internal sexual harassment investigation within the California State Assembly that found Assemblyman Ridley-Thomas made repeated unwanted sexual advances and gestures toward female Capitol staffers, the Globe reported three years ago.
The senior politician, Mark Ridley-Thomas, also the former dean of the School of Social Work at USC, was indicted Wednesday according to the U.S. Department of Justice, “on federal corruption charges that allege a bribery scheme in which a Ridley-Thomas relative received substantial benefits from the university in exchange for Ridley-Thomas supporting county contracts and lucrative contract amendments with the university while he served on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.”
“The 20-count indictment alleges that Ridley-Thomas, now a member of the Los Angeles City Council, conspired with Marilyn Louise Flynn, formerly a tenured professor and the dean of the university’s School of Social Work, who agreed to provide the Ridley-Thomas relative with graduate school admission, a full-tuition scholarship, a paid professorship, and a mechanism to funnel Ridley-Thomas campaign funds through the university to a non-profit to be operated by the relative.”
The younger Assemblyman Ridley-Thomas resigned in December 2017 citing “health issues,” the Los Angeles Times reported. At the time he stepped down, Ridley-Thomas was under investigation for two sexual harassment complaints.
The Globe reported in 2019:
Attorney Vida Thomas, hired by the Assembly, presented factual findings against Ridley-Thomas after investigating relevant documents and interviewing 15 individuals, according to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in a letter to Ridley-Thomas.
In the just-released report, the unnamed sexual harassment victim said that she had several uncomfortable experiences with Assemblyman Ridley-Thomas.
The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree apparently, as the Globe reported:
Within months of resigning from the State Assembly for health concerns, Ridley-Thomas, 30, was hired to join the faculty of University of Southern California as a professor of practice of policy and social work. Because he did not have a graduate degree, Ridley-Thomas was granted a scholarship by USC to pursue a master’s degree. USC is located in his County Supervisor father’s district.
Ridley-Thomas was fired by USC in August 2018 after it was revealed a $100,000 donation that his father, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, made from his campaign account to USC in May, CBS Los Angeles reported. The $100,000 was traced to the account of a nonprofit group unaffiliated with the university, run by the son, former Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.
“As part of the bribery scheme, Ridley-Thomas and Flynn allegedly took steps ‘to disguise, conceal, and cover up the bribes, kickbacks, and other benefits defendant Ridley-Thomas and MRT Relative 1 received,’ which included concealing the official acts Ridley-Thomas agreed to perform and did perform in exchange for the financial benefits,” the DOJ report said. “The pair also concealed, according to the indictment, the true purpose of the money funneled to MRT Relative 1’s nonprofit through the university, which also violated multiple university policies regarding the funding of nonprofits.”
“This indictment charges a seasoned lawmaker who allegedly abused the public’s trust by taking official actions to benefit his family member and himself.”
Kristi K. Johnson, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office added: “This investigation should send a message to public officials that government contracts are not for sale.”
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