Mark Ridley-Thomas’ Fall from Power to Prison; Conspiracy and Fraud

Mark Ridley-Thomas, a prominent Los Angeles political figure is sentenced to 42 months in Federal prison by Judge Dale Fischer. This follows his conviction on seven felonies, including conspiracy and fraud charges. The former politician demanded benefits for his son from a USC dean in exchange for political support for lucrative Los Angeles County business. Let’s examine the case, charges, and sentencing in detail.

The Case Unfolds With a 20-Count Indictment

Mark Ridley-Thomas and former university dean Marilyn Louise Flynn were accused of a bribery scheme. Ridley-Thomas is a member of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. He sought benefits for a relative in exchange for supporting lucrative county contracts and amendments.  In exchange, the indictment alleges, Ridley-Thomas supported contracts benefiting the University’s School of Social Work.

Ridley-Thomas and Marilyn Louise Flynn Conspired For Personal Gain

They secured benefits for Ridley-Thomas’ relative. The benefits included graduate school admission, a full-tuition scholarship, a paid professorship, and a campaign fund mechanism. In return, Ridley-Thomas endorsed contracts benefiting the School of Social Work. These contracts encompassed services to DCFS and Probation Department, along with a lucrative DMH contract amendment, generating millions in revenue.

The Indictment Outlined A Scheme In 2017, and 2018

Ridley-Thomas, then a supervisor, sought benefits for his relative, known as “MRT Relative 1” in the indictment. During this period, MRT Relative 1 faced an internal sexual harassment investigation in the California State Assembly, was likely to resign from elected office, and was significantly in debt. Ridley-Thomas aimed to secure paid employment for his relative to minimize potential public fallout from the resignation.

The Charges Against Mark Ridley-Thomas

Bribery: Under California law, the actions of Ridley-Thomas and Flynn constitute a violation of bribery statutes. By concealing, disguising, and covering up the bribes and benefits they received. They engaged in a deliberate effort to commit corruption. Their intent was to illicitly influence Ridley-Thomas, who held an official position. The goal was to alter his decisions and judgments. This was done with the aim of obtaining advantages that were not rightfully attainable through legitimate means. Their actions violated the fundamental principle of honest and unbiased decision-making in official capacities.

Conspiracy: Under California law, Ridley-Thomas and Marilyn Louise Flynn’s actions constitute a violation of conspiracy laws, particularly California Penal Code Section 182(a)(1). The indictment alleges that they conspired to commit several unlawful acts. Including providing graduate school admission, a full-tuition scholarship, a paid professorship, and a mechanism to funnel campaign funds through a university to a non-profit in exchange for Ridley-Thomas supporting various contracts and amendments benefiting the university. This agreement to commit multiple offenses demonstrates their clear intent to collaborate for unlawful gain and to manipulate official decisions for their own advantage.

Fraud: Ridley-Thomas was charged with four counts of honest services wire fraud. He was also charged with one count of honest services mail fraud. Each of the mail fraud and wire fraud charges carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years. Both defendants perpetrated a fraud against USC and various parties. They accomplished this by concealing their covert arrangement and providing false information to the university. This involved Ridley-Thomas’ $100,000 donation of campaign funds to USC and Flynn’s request for the university to make an exact amount payment payment to PRPI.

The Final Sentence:

Despite Ridley-Thomas’ request for probation and other alternatives, Judge Fischer sentenced him to 42 months in federal prison, along with a $30,000 fine and three years of supervised release. The judge emphasized that Ridley-Thomas had committed serious crimes, showed no remorse, and had not accepted responsibility for his actions. Fischer, appointed by George W. Bush in 2003, stated unequivocally that Ridley-Thomas knew his actions were wrong and that there was no justification for monetizing his office. In the end, Mark Ridley-Thomas’ fall from power to prison serves as a warning, emphasizing that no one is above the law, and public officials must always act in the best interests of their constituents, not their personal gain.

Federal corruption charges that allege a bribery scheme carry substantially harsher penalties than state crimes. Should you find yourself with the complexities of bribery, fraud or conspiracy charges, Contact The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi at (310) 448-1529 or contact us online.

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