Things Aren’t Looking Good for LA’s Mark Ridley-Thomas

Former USC Dean Marilyn Flynn pleaded guilty Tuesday to a bribery scheme involving LA City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and his son, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.

The allegations go back to 2018 when Mark Ridley-Thomas was a county supervisor. Prosecutors had alleged that Flynn funneled $100,000 through the University of Southern California to his son’s nonprofit in exchange for lucrative county contracts.

Appearing in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, Flynn said that she accepted $100,000 from Ridley-Thomas’ political campaign and in turn had USC transfer the money to his son’s group — a scheme that prevented it from “being publicly known that the money came from him.”

Flynn said that Ridley-Thomas knew she wanted her contract for USC’s telehealth clinic approved, and that she needed the green light of a high-ranking L.A. County official to seal the deal. Flynn said she agreed to route the money for Ridley-Thomas because “implicitly, I understood” that he would help her set up that meeting. — Los Angeles Times 

The admission is a massive blow for Ridley-Thomas, who has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery, two counts of honest services mail fraud, and 15 counts of honest services wire fraud in connection with the scheme. He has been suspended from serving on the Los Angeles City Council pending the outcome of the case against him. His trial is scheduled for November 15. 

Flynn’s guilty plea could also have implications for the LA Mayor’s race. The frontrunner, Rep. Karen Bass, accepted a full scholarship from Flynn in 2011 and subsequently proposed legislation favorable to USC. While the U.S. Attorney’s Office has said Bass is not “a target or a subject of our office’s investigation,” it has also said her scholarship is “critical” to their ongoing bribery case.