Los Angeles’ political and group leaders had been shocked by the corruption indictment handed down Wednesday in opposition to Mark Ridley-Thomas, one of many metropolis’s best-known and longest-serving officers.
Ridley-Thomas is accused of conspiring with Marilyn Louise Flynn, who on the time was dean of USC’s Faculty of Social Work, to steer county cash to the college in return for admitting his son Sebastian into the graduate faculty with a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship. Ridley-Thomas was on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on the time. He was later elected to the Metropolis Council representing South Los Angeles.
Neither Ridley-Thomas nor his lawyer has responded up to now to requests for remark.
Wednesday’s announcement was a surprising growth for a politician who has been an influential voice in metropolis coverage for 3 a long time and an architect of regional coverage on the homeless disaster.
A resident of Leimert Park, Ridley-Thomas was elected to the Metropolis Council in 1991, months after police had been captured on video beating motorist Rodney King. In workplace, he fought for extra rigorous oversight of the LAPD and pushed for the departure of then-Police Chief Daryl Gates.
After a stint within the state Legislature, Ridley-Thomas joined the Board of Supervisors, working to reopen Martin Luther King Jr. Group Hospital in Willowbrook, which had been shut down following years of mismanagement, and produce gentle rail to Crenshaw Boulevard and Los Angeles Worldwide Airport. He additionally championed initiatives to battle homelessness, together with Measure H, which pays for hire subsidies, shelter beds and different providers.
In August, he introduced he wouldn’t run for mayor, saying the battle in opposition to homelessness was his “calling and focus.”
“I’ll double down and lean in on that individual difficulty,” he mentioned.
Hours earlier than the indictment turned public, a Instances reporter spoke with Ridley-Thomas a couple of new homelessness coverage, which he had been integral in drafting. Throughout that decision, the veteran politician gave no indication that something was amiss. He mentioned he deliberate to attend a marketing campaign occasion for Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) this weekend.
Ridley-Thomas, 66, is the third L.A. Metropolis Council member to face federal corruption costs over the past two years. He and Flynn every face costs of conspiracy, bribery, mail and wire fraud.
Former Los Angeles Metropolis Councilman Mitchell Englander was arrested in March 2020 on costs of obstructing an investigation into money and different presents that he obtained in casinos in Las Vegas and close to Palm Springs. He later pleaded responsible to a single cost of mendacity to federal authorities and was sentenced to 14 months in jail.
In June 2020, then-Councilman Jose Huizar was charged in a associated corruption case, with prosecutors alleging he headed up a prison enterprise that included racketeering, bribery, cash laundering and different crimes involving a number of actual property builders seeking to construct in downtown. Huizar has pleaded not responsible and is in search of to have a lot of these costs dismissed.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles City Coverage Roundtable, known as the indictment a “devastating authorized and group tragedy for L.A.’s Black voters and his constituents.”
“Ridley-Thomas has been a one-man establishment in Black politics, and within the Black group, for a lot of, a few years,” he mentioned. “He’s bought loads of constituents, lots of people, who look to him not simply to be their consultant — they see him as a political chief.”
Hutchinson urged metropolis officers to not rush to judgment, saying “an indictment shouldn’t be a conviction.”
Council President Nury Martinez signaled the council might certainly act.
In an announcement, Martinez mentioned she was disenchanted by the information of the indictment.
“Whereas the alleged crimes happened whereas Mr. Ridley-Thomas sat on the Board of Supervisors, these costs are severe and the Council might want to take applicable motion,” she mentioned.
Councilman Joe Buscaino, at present operating for mayor, provided even stronger phrases, saying he was “shocked, saddened and disgusted” by the indictment.
“These costs tarnish the repute of the complete L.A. Metropolis Council, and due to that, Ridley-Thomas ought to instantly step down from his place,” Buscaino mentioned on Twitter.
The indictment comes three years after The Instances revealed that USC had supplied a scholarship to Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and appointed him as a professor across the time that then-Supervisor Ridley-Thomas had funneled marketing campaign cash by means of the college that ended up in a nonprofit group run by his son.