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A veteran Los Angeles politician has been sentenced to more than 3 years in prison for corruption

Mark Ridley-Thomas
Posted at 8:01 PM, Aug 28, 2023

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A veteran Los Angeles politician was sentenced Monday to 3 1/2 years in prison for a scheme in which he sought benefits for his son in exchange for supporting lucrative government contracts with the University of Southern California School of Social Work.

Mark Ridley-Thomas, most recently a city councilmember, was sentenced in U.S. District Court on seven felony convictions including conspiracy, bribery and fraud for actions while he was a member of the powerful Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Judge Dale S. Fischer also ordered Ridley-Thomas, 68, to pay a $30,000 fine.

A jury in March found that Ridley-Thomas schemed in 2017 and 2018 with Marilyn Louise Flynn, then dean of USC's School of Social Work, to funnel $100,000 from a Ridley-Thomas campaign fund through the university to a nonprofit run by his son.

Prosecutors said the son also received graduate school admission, a scholarship and a paid professorship in the course of the conspiracy and bribery scheme.

Flynn, 84, pleaded guilty last year to one count of bribery and was sentenced to 1 1/2 years of home confinement.

The City Council suspended Ridley-Thomas in October 2021 after he was charged and his seat was declared vacant when he was convicted.

It was a stunning fall for a once-commanding figure in LA politics, who earlier served in the state Senate and Assembly, and was known for his involvement in civil rights.