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Indictment in opposition to Mark Ridley-Thomas one other blow to L.A.

Los Angeles political and neighborhood leaders had been surprised Wednesday by a corruption indictment in opposition to one of many metropolis’s best-known and longest-serving officers, Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Ridley-Thomas is accused of conspiring with Marilyn Louise Flynn, who was then dean of USC’s College of Social Work, to obtain county cash in alternate for her son Sebastian to enter graduate college with a full-tuition scholarship. to run on the college and a paid professor. Ridley-Thomas was on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on the time. He was later elected to town council representing South Los Angeles.

Neither Ridley-Thomas nor her legal professional have to this point responded 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 many years and an architect of regional coverage on the homelessness disaster.

A resident of Leimert Park, Ridley-Thomas was elected to town council in 1991, months after police captured motorist Rodney King beating him on video. In workplace, he fought for extra stringent 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 closed after years of mismanagement, and Introduced mild rail to Crenshaw Boulevard and Los Angeles. Worldwide Airport. He took initiatives to battle homelessness, together with Measure H, which subsidizes lease, pays for 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 might double down and lean on that specific difficulty,” he mentioned.

Hours earlier than the indictment grew to become public, a reporter for the Instances spoke with Ridley-Thomas a few new homelessness coverage he was integral to drafting. Throughout that decision, the veteran politician gave no indication that something was incorrect. He mentioned he deliberate to attend a marketing campaign occasion for rap Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) this weekend.

Ridley-Thomas, 66, is the third LA metropolis council member to face federal corruption prices prior to now two years. He and Flynn every face prices of conspiracy, bribery, mail and wire fraud.

Former Los Angeles Metropolis Councilman Michelle Englander was arrested in March 2020 for obstructing an investigation into money and different items acquired at casinos close to Las Vegas and Palm Springs. He later pleaded responsible to the identical cost of mendacity to federal officers and was sentenced to 14 months in jail.

In June 2020, then-councillor Jose Huizer was indicted in a associated corruption case, by which prosecutors allege he led a prison enterprise that included racketeering, bribery, cash laundering and different crimes, together with a number of actual Property builders had been concerned who wished to construct within the metropolis. Huizer has pleaded not responsible and is looking for the dismissal of a number of of these prices.

Earl Ofrey Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles City Coverage Roundtable, known as the indictment “a devastating authorized and neighborhood tragedy for LA’s black voters and their constituents.”

“Ridley-Thomas has been a one-man establishment in black politics, and within the black neighborhood, for a lot of, a few years,” he mentioned. “He has a whole lot of constituents, lots of people, who see him not solely as his consultant – they see him as a political chief.”

Hutchinson urged metropolis officers to not rush a call, saying “an indictment isn’t a punishment.”

Council President Nuri Martínez indicated that the Council could certainly perform.

Martinez mentioned in a press release that he was disillusioned by the information of the indictment.

“Whereas the alleged offenses occurred when Mr Ridley-Thomas was sitting on the board of observers, these allegations are critical and would require the council to take applicable motion,” she mentioned.

Councilor Joe Buscano, at the moment operating for mayor, supplied much more sturdy phrases, saying he was “shocked, saddened and disillusioned” by the indictment.

“These allegations tarnish the status of the complete LA Metropolis Council, and for that reason, Ridley-Thomas ought to step down instantly,” Buscano mentioned on Twitter.

The indictment comes three years after The Instances revealed that USC had awarded a scholarship to Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and appointed him as a professor across the time when then-supervisor Ridley-Thomas went by means of the college. The marketing campaign had funneled cash that ended up in a non-profit group. run by his son.

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