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Los Angeles city councilor charged with federal corruption

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LOS ANGELES – Longtime politician Mark Ridley-Thomas and a former University of Southern California dean were charged on Wednesday with bribes and federal corruption involving political support for county contracts, the officials said. prosecutors.

The charges against Ridley-Thomas, 66, a Los Angeles city councilor, stem from his tenure on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

He was charged along with Marilyn Louise Flynn, the former dean of USC’s School of Social Work, with conspiracy, bribery, and mail and email fraud, prosecutors said.

The 20-count indictment alleges Ridley-Thomas backed county contracts with the school worth millions of dollars in return for Flynn helping Ridley-Thomas’ parent.

Flynn reportedly agreed to admit the parent to graduate school with a full scholarship and a paid teaching position.

The indictment describes a payment of $ 100,000 to an anonymous sponsor to fund a nonprofit organization that Ridley-Thomas’ parent would run, according to the document.

Ridley-Thomas backed the county’s contracts with the school, including an endorsement to a contract worth millions, prosecutors said.

“This indictment accuses a seasoned lawmaker who allegedly abused public trust by taking official action for the benefit of a family member and himself,” Acting Prosecutor Tracy L. Wilkison said in a statement.

The Ridley-Thomas City Council press office did not immediately return a request for comment on Wednesday evening. Federal court files online did not show a lawyer for him.

USC said in a statement that it disclosed an issue to federal prosecutors in 2018.

“When the university learned in the summer of 2018 of the $ 100,000 payment mentioned in the indictment, the university disclosed the matter to the US attorney’s office and has cooperated fully since,” officials said. of USC in a statement.

Flynn has not been with USC since September 2018, they said.

She was appointed dean of the school in 1997 and was fired in 2018 before resigning, according to the indictment.

Ridley-Thomas’ relative is not named in the indictment, but does indicate that the relative was a member of the State Assembly from 2013 as of December 31, 2017.

Ridley-Thomas’ son Sebastian was a member of the State Assembly during those years and announced his resignation in December 2017, citing health reasons.

The indictment says the parent was the subject of an internal sexual harassment investigation, and Ridley-Thomas and the parent knew he would likely have to quit. Considering that the parent would need a new job, Ridley Thomas reportedly contacted Flynn about his graduate studies.

At the time, the university’s school of social work was facing a multi-million dollar budget deficit, according to the indictment.

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