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LA City Council Will Vote On Suspending Mark Ridley-Thomas Following Indictment

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas in shown speaking at a podium with his right index finger raised in the air for emphasis.
Mark Ridley-Thomas
(Paul Redmond
/
Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles City Council will vote Wednesday on a motion to suspend L.A. City Council member and long time politician Mark Ridley-Thomas, who faces a federal indictment for his alleged involvement in a bribery scheme.

“A council member who has been charged with public corruption cannot continue to exercise the powers of city office and preserve public trust," reads the motion introduced Tuesday by L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez.

If approved, Councilman Ridley-Thomas would be barred from participating in council activities including executing contracts and using discretionary funds. He would also lose his salary according to Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin.

"No one indicted for public corruption and suspended by the City Council should receive a taxpayer-funded salary," Galperin said.

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Federal prosecutors allege that when Ridley-Thomas was an L.A. County Supervisor he backed county contracts and lucrative contract amendments while one of his relatives got substantial benefits from USC in exchange.

Ridley-Thomas said Monday he will step back from his duties in a letter sent to colleagues.

He stopped short of saying he would resign.

"Throughout my entire career, I have sought to act with the utmost ethical conviction. I have every intent of fighting these outrageous allegations and expect to be fully exonerated," he wrote in the letter.

He will, for the time being, take a break from participating in council and committee meetings and says he is looking forward to resuming his "participation at the earliest appropriate time."

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While the Council meets on Wednesday, Councilman Ridley-Thomas is also expected to make his first appearance in Federal Court on corruption charges brought against him last week.

The 20-count indictment was filed in federal court in Los Angeles. It accuses Ridley-Thomas of conspiring with Mary Louise Flynn, former dean of USC's School of Social Work, to provide his relative with grad school admission, a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship.

Ridley-Thomas' lawyer has denied the allegations, calling them "wrong." Flynn's lawyer said she "has not committed any crime."

The indictment traces the scheme to 2017 and 2018, saying Ridley-Thomas sought help from USC "to benefit his close relative" at a time when the relative "was the subject of an internal sexual harassment investigation in the California State Assembly, likely to resign from elected office, and significantly in debt."

The indictment does not name the relative, but Ridley-Thomas' son Sebastian resigned from the State Assembly in Dec. 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment against him by two Assembly employees.

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An outside investigator later substantiated the allegations.

LAist staffers Nick Roman and Frank Stoltze contributed to this report.

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