LA councilor ‘swapped lucrative county contracts to get his son into USC graduate program’

A Los Angeles councilor and former dean of the University of Southern California is charged with conspiracy and bribery after plotting to get the politician’s son into graduate school.

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, 66, and former social work dean Marilyn Louise Flynn, 83, were cited in a 20-count indictment released Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.

The indictment alleges that the politician, who was then a member of the LA County Board of Supervisors, exchanged county contracts in exchange for relative admission to USC’s graduate school.

The relative was named by the family as the son of Ridley-Thomas, Sebastian, 34 LA Times.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas served as a member of the California State Assembly from the 54th district from 2013 to 2017, when he resigned due to ill health. He faced allegations of sexual harassment, allegedly kissing a woman and contacting her repeatedly. He denied any mistake.

An external investigation revealed that Sebastian harassed the woman and another staffer “more likely than no.”

California’s release of Sexual Harassment Records stated: “[Sebastian] made a sexual advance on a co-worker he asked for dinner and tried to kiss. Repeatedly winked at another employee and held her hand in a way that made her uncomfortable.”

Authorities say that between 2017 and 2018, the Mark Ridley-Thomas and Flynn traded “supportive county contracts and lucrative contract changes with the university” in exchange for Sebastian receiving benefits and a job as a university teacher.

In exchange for the contracts, Sebastian would receive “admission to graduate school, a full scholarship, a paid professorship and a mechanism to channel Ridley-Thomas campaign funds through college to a non-profit organization,” the indictment alleges.

Sebastian was later fired from his position at USC in September 2018 after questions were raised about his nomination and a $100,000 donation his father made to the school, the Times reports.

Ridley-Thomas traded provincial contracts to get his son Sebastian (above) into high school after sexual harassment allegations

Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, 66, (left) and former University of Southern California Social Work Dean Marilyn Louise Flynn, 83, were cited in a 20-count charge of conspiracy and bribery in a deal to kill his son Sebastian (right) ) in the graduation program of the school

The school's social work department faced a

The school’s social work department faced a “million dollar budget shortfall” that would threaten “Flynn’s position and reputation.” (Photo: Flynn)

Mark Ridley-Thomas “allegedly wanted to help secure gainful employment for his relative to minimize any public impact” following his firing, prosecutors said.

The School of Social Work reportedly faced a “budget deficit of millions of dollars” that posed a threat to “Flynn’s position and reputation.”

The indictment said the university’s Department of Social Work had been “contracted to provide services to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Probation Service,” and to the Department of Mental Health (DMH) that provided the school millions of dollars. would yield. new income.’

The indictment also states that the “seasoned lawmaker” has violated public trust by “taking official actions in favor of his family member and himself.”

It alleges that the defendants took actions “to disguise, conceal and disguise the bribes, kickbacks and other benefits” that Ridley-Thomas and his son received.

The pair are now facing charges of conspiracy, bribery and mail and telephony fraud and could face decades in prison

The pair are now facing charges of conspiracy, bribery and mail and telephony fraud and could face decades in prison

“The corrupt activities cited in the indictment were facilitated by a senior executive at a major university whose desire for funding apparently trumped notions of integrity and fair play,” Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said in a statement.

Ridley-Thomas and Flynn will appear in court in a US district court in the coming weeks.

They are both facing one conspiracy charge, one bribery charge, two “honest services” email fraud charges, and 15 counts of “honest services” wire fraud charges.

They can be sentenced up to five years for conspiracy, 10 years for bribery, and any charges of fraud can carry up to 20 years in prison each.

“This investigation should send a message to officials that government contracts are not for sale,” Kristi K. Johnson, the FBI’s assistant director of the FBI’s LA Field Office, told KTLA 5.