Former USC dean, LA politician accused of corruption

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FILE – In this June 1, 2010 file photo, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas casts a casting vote for the Board of Supervisors 3-2 to join the city in its economic boycott of Arizona over the of its SB 1070 law targeting illegal immigrants in Los Angeles. Longtime politician Mark Ridley-Thomas and the former dean of the School of Social Work at USC were indicted on Thursday, October 14, 2021 on federal corruption charges that allege a bribery scheme in which a parent of Ridley-Thomas received substantial benefits from the university in return for Ridley-Thomas’ support for county contracts and lucrative contract changes with the university while he served on the county board of directors of Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Damian Dovarganes, file)

PA

Powerful Los Angeles politician Mark Ridley-Thomas and a former University of Southern California dean were charged Wednesday with a bribery scheme in which Ridley-Thomas pledged to direct millions of dollars in contracts to the school if his son got a scholarship and an education. job.

20-count federal indictment names Ridley-Thomas, a former county supervisor who is now on Los Angeles City Council, and Marilyn Louise Flynn, former dean of USC’s School of Social Work .

An email to Ridley-Thomas reps seeking comment was not immediately returned.

USC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Flynn’s contact details could not be found.

Federal prosecutors said that in 2017 and 2018 then supervisor Ridley-Thomas offered to support county contracts with USC’s School of Social Work – which had a multi-million budget deficit. dollars – in exchange for helping a parent.

In return, Flynn promised to provide the parent with a full scholarship and a paid teaching position, and concocted a plan to funnel $ 100,000 in Ridley-Thomas campaign funds through the university “to a charitable organization. non-profit that will be operated by the parent, ”a statement from the US attorney’s office said.

At the time, Ridley-Thomas’ son Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was a member of the State Assembly and was the subject of sexual harassment complaints. He resigned on the last day of 2017, citing unspecified health concerns and an Assembly inquiry in 2019 concluded that he likely made an unwanted sexual advance to a member of the Capitol staff.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was awarded a $ 26,000 scholarship for 2018 and was offered a paid teaching position with a salary of $ 50.00, even though being a student and a teacher would violate school policy, have prosecutors said.

A native of Los Angeles, Ridley-Thomas is one of Southern California’s most powerful and well-known politicians. He got a doctorate. in Social Ethics and Policy Analysis at USC in 1989. He served his fourth non-consecutive term on City Council, where he chaired the Committee on Homelessness and Poverty. He also served two terms on the County Supervisory Board and one term each in the State Assembly and the State Senate.

Ridley-Thomas, 61, and Flynn, 83, are charged with conspiracy and bribery as well as mail and electronic fraud. They could face decades in federal prison if convicted of all charges.


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