LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted on federal charges Wednesday for his role in an alleged bribery scheme that landed his son a professorship at USC.
Federal prosecutors alleged in a 20-count indictment that Ridley-Thomas helped direct funding and contracts to USC’s school of social work while serving on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. In exchange, his son, former state lawmaker Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, was guaranteed graduate school admission and a paid teaching position by the school’s then-dean, Marilyn Louise Flynn.
Mark Ridley-Thomas also moved $100,000 from a campaign committee through USC and eventually into the account of a nonprofit that employed his son, the indictment alleges.
The case capped an extraordinary day of corruption scandals in California. It came just hours after news that a top labor leader, Alma Hernández, faced state charges of embezzlement, tax fraud and perjury and that she had resigned from her post as executive director of SEIU California.
Flynn, who has since retired from USC, was also named in the indictment. Along with the bribery charges, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Flynn also face conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud counts. Those charges carry maximum penalties ranging from five to 20 years in prison.
The elder Ridley-Thomas has been a longtime fixture in Los Angeles politics, serving on the Board of Supervisors from 2008 until he was elected to his city council seat last year. Ma
He is the third Los Angeles City Council member to be indicted on federal corruption charges in recent years following Jose Huizar, whose trial is set to start next year, and Mitch Englander, who in January was sentenced to 14 months in prison.
Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was serving in the Assembly at the start of the alleged bribery scheme, which ran from 2017 through 2018, according to the indictment. He resigned from that position in December 2017 amid a sexual harassment investigation, citing health problems.