BREAKING: Former L.A. Board of Supervisor and City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas Found Guilty on 7 Counts

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Former Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and L.A. City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas has been found guilty on seven of the 19 counts of the indictment lodged against him in October of 2021.

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This indictment of Ridley-Thomas was years in the making. In 2018, the L.A. Times uncovered that the University of Southern California received a $100,000 donation from a campaign fund controlled by Ridley-Thomas. The Councilman’s son, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, had previously been hired as a professor of social work and public policy, and was also given a scholarship by USC to attend graduate school. Somewhere along the line, that $100,000 gift ended up in a non-profit group run by Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.

BREAKING – Mark Ridley Thomas found GUILTY of seven counts: one conspiracy, one bribery, one honest services mail fraud and four honest services wire fraud

The indictment against Ridley-Thomas included 19 counts. He was found NOT GUILTY on the other 12 counts of mail fraud and honest services.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Mark Ridley-Thomas, one of Los Angeles County’s most prominent politicians, was found guiltyThursday of federal corruption charges related to special benefits his son received at USC.

The verdict, which jurors reached in their fifth day of deliberations, marks a devastating fall for a man who for more than 30 years was a power broker in L.A. politics and a vocal advocate for civil rights and racial justice.

Ridley-Thomas, 68, now faces the possibility of years in federal prison and the permanent ouster from his seat on the L.A. City Council, from which he has been suspended for the last 17 months.

The verdict is the most high-profile in a string of victories for a team of public corruption prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. That team secured guilty pleas from two other L.A. City Council members and won the conviction of U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry in an illegal campaign contribution case. It has also unraveled a corruption scheme involving L.A.’s Department of Water and Power and sent a wealthy and connected Beverly Hills developer to prison for bribery in a case involving leases with L.A. County government.

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As my colleague Bob Hoge and I have reported, Los Angeles politicians, particularly the Los Angeles City Council have been experiencing their chickens coming home to roost:

The racism on the Los Angeles City Council, revealed in leaked audio Sunday, attracted national headlines, the rebuke of every politician from President Joe Biden on down, forced resignations, and emotional protests. The naked power grabbing and backroom dealing, meanwhile, was just as insidious, but so far hasn’t garnered the same level of attention.

The #LatinXScandal has resulted in the resignation of former District 6 Councilwoman Nury Martinez, coupled with protests and embarrassment continuing for District 14 Councilman Kevin de Leon, who refuses to resign.

Ridley-Thomas has long been in the line of Los Angeles elected officials who used their position and influence to enrich themselves and family members. Now he’s joined the shorter line of those who might actually pay for their excesses. Former Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar was arrested last year on federal RICO charges, alleging he accepted $1.5 million in kickbacks. In January, Councilman Mitch Englander was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison for obstruction of the federal investigation into his acceptance of gifts, including $15,000 in cash, during 2017 trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs.

Former councilman Jose Huizar pled guilty to his corruption charges and awaits sentencing. Ridley-Thomas is the latest thread unraveled from Los Angeles’ decades-long web of corruption.

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Who’s next? Perhaps Former Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, if we are fortunate.

 

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