Los Angeles City Councilor Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of accepting bribes from a former USC dean in return for millions of dollars in contract support County of LA with the university while serving on the county supervisory board.
A federal grand jury has accused Ridley-Thomas of conspiring with Marilyn Louise Flynn, then dean of USC’s School of Social Work, to channel the county’s money to the university in exchange for her admission. son Sebastian in graduate school with a full scholarship and chair salary.
The 20-count indictment alleges that Flynn and Ridley-Thomas also concocted a scheme to transfer $ 100,000 from one of its campaign committees through the university to a non-profit organization where his son would work.
Ridley-Thomas, 66, one of Los Angeles’ most powerful political figures, and Flynn each face charges of conspiracy, bribery, mail and electronic fraud.
The criminal charges are the latest in a string of scandals that have tainted USC’s reputation in recent years.
The indictment comes three years after The Times revealed that USC provided a scholarship to Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and appointed him professor at the time when then-supervisor Ridley-Thomas, funneled campaign money through the university which ended up in a nonprofit group. run by his son. The Times reported that USC alerted federal prosecutors to the unusual arrangement following an internal investigation.
“This indictment accuses a seasoned lawmaker who allegedly abused public trust by taking official action for the benefit of himself and a member of his family,” acting US Atty. said Tracy L. Wilkison. “The corrupt activities alleged in the indictment were facilitated by a high-ranking administrator of a major university whose desire for funding apparently outweighed notions of integrity and fair play.
Ridley-Thomas and Flynn could not be reached immediately for comment.
This is a developing story.