LOS ANGELES — Longtime politician Mark Ridley-Thomas and a former dean of the University of Southern California were indicted Wednesday on federal bribery and corruption charges involving political support for county contracts, prosecutors said.
The charges against Ridley-Thomas, 66, a Los Angeles City Council member, stem from her time serving on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
Prosecutors said he was indicted along with former USC School of Social Work dean Marilyn Lewis Flynn on charges of conspiracy, bribery and mail and wire fraud.
The 20-count indictment alleges that Ridley-Thomas favored county contracts with the school, which were worth millions of dollars, in exchange for helping a relative of Ridley-Thomas.
Flynn alleges that he agreed to accept a graduate school relative with a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship.
According to the document, the indictment describes a $100,000 payment to an unnamed sponsor to finance a non-profit organization that a relative of Ridley-Thomas will run.
Prosecutors said Ridley-Thomas backed county contracts with the school, which include an estimated $9 million worth of contract amendments.
“This indictment accuses a veteran lawmaker who allegedly abused the public’s trust by taking official action to benefit his family member and himself,” Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said in a Statement.
Ridley-Thomas’ city council press office did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday night. Online federal court records did not show an attorney for him.
USC said in a statement that it disclosed the problems to federal prosecutors in 2018.
USC officials said in a statement, “When the university became aware of the $100,000 payment referenced in the indictment in the summer of 2018, the university disclosed the issue to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and has since cooperated fully. “
He said Flynn has not been employed at USC since September 2018. The indictment says he was named the school’s dean in 1997 and was ousted before resigning in 2018.
Ridley-Thomas’ relative is not named in the indictment, which says the relative was a member of the state legislature from 2013 to December 31, 2017.
Ridley-Thomas’ son Sebastian was a state assembly member during those years and announced his resignation in December 2017 citing health reasons.
The indictment says the relative was the subject of an internal sexual assault investigation and that Ridley-Thomas and the relative knew they would have to step down. Accounting for the reality that the relative would need a new job, Ridley Thomas is alleged to have approached Flynn about attending graduate school.
The indictment states that at the time, the university’s school of social work suffered a budget deficit of several million dollars.
Prosecutors said Ridley-Thomas and Flynn have agreed to appear in federal court in the coming weeks.
According to the indictment, at one point Flynn told another university official that the school would receive an estimated $9 million a year telehealth contract, but needed to “do it a favor” and wink.
On an earlier point, Ridley-Thomas wrote to Flynn in an email that “your will is my command” when asked about the contract amendment, the indictment says.
Ridley-Thomas was on the County Board of Supervisors from 2008 to 2020, and was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 2020.
Los Angeles City Council President Nuri Martinez said she was disappointed by the news. “While the alleged crimes occurred when Mr Ridley-Thomas sat on the board of supervisors, these allegations are serious and will require the council to take appropriate action,” Martinez said.
Ridley-Thomas is the third current or former Los Angeles City Council member to have been indicted on federal charges since 2020.
jose huijaro was charged in 2020 With taking bribes from developers. He has pleaded not guilty.
The former council member who resigned in 2018 was Michelle Englander charged up Last year in connection with the corruption investigation. He lied about taking inappropriate gifts, Found guilty and in January sentence ordered Imprisonment up to 14 months.
USC has also been linked to scandals in recent years.
The former was longtime USC gynecologist George Tyndall criminally charged and accused the patients of sexual harassment, and the university agreed to pay over $1.1 billion Hundreds of women to settle cases. United States Department of Education met That USC handled abuse reports incorrectly.
two former USC soccer coach blamed in the dispersion”Operation University Blues“A case of college admission fraud, in which wealthy parents paid bribes to get their children into high-end schools, sometimes Fake Athletic Profile. A former USC associate athletic director and another former coach Has been charged.