Mark Ridley-Thomas

Former Los Angeles City Council Member Sentenced To Prison For Corruption and 6 Other Felonies

Former Los Angeles City Council member Mark Ridley-Thomas was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for corruption.

As previously reported, Ridley-Thomas was found guilty of seven felonies, including bribery and fraud, following a scheme he carried out to ensure his son’s acceptance at the University of Southern California. Ridley-Thomas promised to funnel millions in government dollars to the institution in return. “When elected leaders engage in acts of corruption, our community suffers immense damage. Ridley-Thomas engaged in a corrupt conspiracy with a university dean to steer taxpayer-funded contracts to the school in exchange for benefits for his son,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement at the time. The longtime politician had been a vocal advocate for civil rights issues in the city and a leading figure in times of racial unrest.

According to the Associated Press, along with his mandatory prison time, Judge Dale S. Fischer ordered the 68-year-old Ridley-Thomas to pay a $30,000 fine.

At his sentencing, the former councilman apologized to his family and other supporters in the courtroom, expressing his regret yet standing firm on the legality of his actions. “This case exists somewhere between what is clearly legal conduct on one end, and clearly illegal conduct on the other,” he said. Ridley-Thomas is not going down alone as Marilyn Louise Flynn, who served as dean of USC’s School of Social Work, was also charged for her role in the $100,000 scheme and sentenced to a year and a half of home confinement. Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the son at the center of the case, has not been charged in this matter, although he was the benefactor of the funds. The former state assemblyman was awarded a $26,000 graduate scholarship to attend USC and a $50,000 salary to teach at the institution in addition to $100,000 received by his organization.