LA city leaders call on Mark Ridley-Thomas to step down after indictment on corruption charges

Los Angeles (CNS)-A meeting scheduled for Thursday morning to include Los Angeles City Council member Mark Ridley Thomas, who was charged with federal corruption on Wednesday, has been cancelled.

A conference call between the council’s homeless and the Poverty Commission was scheduled for 10 am

The councilor, along with a former dean of the USC Social Work School, alleges federal corruption claiming a bribery scheme that prosecutors say the son of Ridley Thomas received substantial benefits from the university in exchange for support for a politician’s contract. Belongs to the county oversight committee charged with charges.

Now the city leaders are speaking out.

A 20-count indictment filed Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles alleges that Ridley Thomas colluded with Marilyn Louise Flynn. Donate $ 100,000 in Ridley-Thomas campaign funding through the university to a family-run nonprofit organization.

In return, the complaint upheld Ridley Thomas’ contract to provide services to the county’s Department of Child and Family Services and Probation, as well as contracts involving social work schools, including amendments to contracts with psychiatry. Claims. Health that brings millions of dollars in new income to schools.

According to the US Federal Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles’ Ridley Thomas, 66, and Flynn, 83, were indicted Wednesday afternoon and agreed to appear in federal court in Los Angeles within a few weeks. ..

Read more | LA City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas charged with federal corruption

On Wednesday, it was not possible to ask a representative of Ridley Thomas for comment.

Flynn’s lawyer, Vicky I. Podberezky, told the Los Angeles Times that her client “has not committed a crime. I believe the evidence in this case ultimately supports this conclusion.”

Podberesky described Flynn as a veteran scholar who “worked tirelessly to improve and improve social welfare networks in Los Angeles and across the country.”

“When the university learned of the $ 100,000 payment mentioned in the indictment in the summer of 2018, the university disclosed the matter to the federal prosecutor’s office and has been fully cooperating ever since. Flynn has not been hired. University since September 2018. This is a pending criminal issue and we need to continue to work with the US Federal Attorney’s Office to limit comments. “

Both Ridley Thomas and Flynn have been charged with conspiracy and bribes.

The indictment also charges both defendants with two counts of “honest service” postal fraud and 15 counts of “honest service” transfer fraud.

“The indictment allegedly abused public confidence by taking official action to benefit himself and his family,” Tracy L. Wilkison, deputy US federal prosecutor, said in a statement. I am prosecuting a veteran lawmaker. ” High-ranking managers of major universities whose desire for funding has clearly defeated the notion of honesty and fair play. Public corruption is one of the most important issues we pursue, and we will continue to investigate and prosecute civil servants and other taxpayer-funded people whenever they violate the law. “

The complaint outlines the plans filed in 2017 and 2018, with then-supervisor Ridley Thomas being the subject of an internal sexual harassment investigation in Congress and resigning from an elected position. Probably sought profit from Flynn and college officials to benefit his relatives and with considerable debt.

The indictment did not appoint relatives, but Ridley Thomas’ son Sebastian resigned from Congress in 2017 during an investigation into sexual harassment complaints. He argued at the time that the resignation was not for sexual harassment investigations, but for health reasons.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas later became a professor of social work and public policy at USC, despite not having a graduate degree. He was later dismissed for more than $ 100,000 in questions about the university’s initial appointment and concerns directed to Sebastian Ridley Thomas’ nonprofit organization after being donated to a social services school from his father’s campaign finances. I did.

Related: USC Requests Federal Investigation of Donations by Ridley-Thomas

Prosecutors claim that Mark Ridley Thomas wants to secure paid employment for his son in order to minimize his son’s public fallout in the wake of his son’s sudden resignation.

Meanwhile, social work schools faced millions of dollars in budget deficits, threatening the school’s viability and Flynn’s position and reputation as the school’s longtime dean, according to the complaint.

As part of the bribery scheme, Ridley Thomas and Flynn allegedly took steps to “disguise, conceal, and conceal bribes, kickbacks, and other interests.” According to the document, Thomas agreed to do so in exchange for financial gain.

According to the indictment, the pair also concealed the true purpose of $ 100,000 poured into relatives’ nonprofits through the university and violated several college policies regarding funding nonprofits. The prosecution said.

Within weeks of Ridley Thomas contacting Flynn about his relatives seeking a college graduate degree in May 2017, Flynn launched a campaign to secure both college admission and a full scholarship. ..
Relatives and prosecutors claim.

Flynn wrote in an email that he intends to open all the doors for his family, the indictment alleges. According to the complaint, Flynn was at another university with her when a university official said that Ridley Thomas had “a lot of discretionary money” and should give the university “$ 1 million a year for three years.” A full scholarship in exchange for school funding that officials said they intend to provide relatives.

According to prosecutors, in June 2017, Ridley Thomas and Flynn reached an agreement, which he later commemorated with a secret letter handed to Ridley Thomas. The complaint details Flynn’s letter with Ridley Thomas’ hopes of leading a new contract with DCFS and probation to a social work school and ensuring a favorable amendment to the existing telemedicine-DMH contract. Claims.

Prosecutors claim that the new amendment predicted that telemedicine contracts would generate about $ 9 million a year for social work schools.

The indictment was voted in August 2017 by Ridley Thomas to approve a motion to establish a partnership between the county and the social work school, and “The Conservation College,” it is the school’s county payer. Create a.

“I’m very happy to see (Ridley-Thomas) as good as his words,” Flynn told college officials in an email, saying the indictment was “really trying to convey.”

The number of plots alleged in the indictment can be imprisoned in federal prison for up to five years. Each bribery case can be sentenced to up to 10 years.

Each charge for postal fraud and wire fraud is penalized for up to 20 years.

Ridley-Thomas is the third Los Angeles city council member to be charged in the past year.

Jose Huizar was acquitted of bribes and other federal crimes in December for receiving at least $ 1.5 million and other benefits from developers seeking favorable treatment in a pending real estate development project.

The trial is scheduled for May in the case, trapping political agents, lobbyists, and former general manager of the Los Angeles Building Safety Agency.

The Mitchell Englishman pleaded guilty to a felony last July and admitted that he had planned to prevent federal agents from learning about cash and other giveaways received from businessmen in Southern California. He was sentenced to 14 months from January for lying to federal authorities about a secret cash payment of $ 15,000 and a deal with a businessman who offered him a night in Las Vegas.

Ridley Thomas is a local political giant who previously belonged to the Los Angeles City Council from 1991 to 2002 and was a member of the Legislature and Legislature before being elected to the powerful county oversight in 2008. , Served until 2020. When he returned to the city council.

He holds a PhD in Social Ethics from the USC and has been a Managing Director of the Southern Christian Guidance Council in the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area for 10 years since 1981.

The news of the indictment urged a swift response from city council members and mayor candidate Joe Buskaino, who asked Ridley Thomas to resign.

“I’m shocked, sad and tired of the federal bribery accusation against Mark Ridley Thomas,” Buskaino said on Twitter. Go down from his position “

City council president Nuri Martinez said in the news that he was “disappointed” and that “crimes were allegedly committed while Ridley Thomas was sitting on the oversight board, but these accusations were serious and Congress said. Actions that will require appropriate action.”

She did not identify what action she might take. When Huizar was arrested, the council resolved to suspend him and left his staff as district caretakers.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has not commented on this issue.

Meanwhile, Earl Offari Hutchinson, chairman of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said the complaint was “a catastrophic legal and community tragedy for black voters in LA. [Ridley-Thomas’] Component. “

“Thomas is a virtual institution of LA Black politics, which makes the prosecution even more devastating,” Hutchinson said.

Alex Villanueva of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office also participated on Twitter.

Ridley-Thomas District 10 represents an area that includes Arlington Heights, Koreatown, Leimert Park, Gramercy Park, Midcity, Wilshire Center and Baldwin Village.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

Copyright © 2021 by City News Service, Inc. all rights reserved.

LA city leaders call on Mark Ridley-Thomas to step down after indictment on corruption charges Source link LA city leaders call on Mark Ridley-Thomas to step down after indictment on corruption charges

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