On August 28, prominent Los Angeles County politician Mark Ridley-Thomas was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for voting for county contracts that favored USC while corrupting in advantages for his son.
Los Angeles Politician Ridley-Thomas Sentenced to 3-year Imprisonment
During the sentence, U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer stated in a packed downtown Los Angeles courthouse that the defendant’s offenses have affected the entire community. Ridley-Thomas, according to Judge Fischer, “has committed serious crimes, has not accepted responsibility, and has shown no remorse.” After his prison sentence, Los Angeles politician Mr. Ridley-Thomas was sentenced to three years of supervised release. In addition, he must pay $30,700 in penalties and charges.
During the hearing, Los Angeles politician Mr. Ridley-Thomas again denied anything criminal but apologized to his family and constituents for the situation he put them in November 13 saw the former state legislator, municipal councilor, and county supervisor go to prison. A sentencing memorandum stated that Mr. Ridley-Thomas participated in “a shakedown.” Prosecutors requested a six-year term.
“Not the kind in movies with money or guns. But pleasant and omnipresent. Too often done by wealthy, intelligent individuals. The type that society has grown accustomed to, which often goes undetected, seldom results in punishment for the culprit, and destroys our democratic system “prosecutors wrote. Defense attorneys requested house confinement, community service, and a fine, not prison time. Court documents show they demanded two years and three months in prison if necessary.
During his time on the county Board of Supervisors, 68-year-old Mr. Ridley-Thomas was convicted on March 30 of conspiracy, bribery, honest services mail fraud, and four counts of honest services wire fraud while suspended from the L.A. City Council. He was acquitted of 12 fraud counts by Los Angeles federal court jurors on their fifth day.
In defense documents, Ridley-Thomas’ lawyer advocated for a probationary sentence similar to Marilyn Flynn’s. Ms. Flynn, an 84-year-old former USC social work school dean, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a $150,000 fine for bribing the veteran legislator last month. According to Mr. Ridley-Thomas’ attorney, a just sentence must assess whether imposing a sentence markedly different from that imposed on Dean Flynn creates the appearance of vindictiveness for proceeding to trial.
Bernard Parks, a retired Los Angeles Police Department chief and ex-councilman who lost to Mr. Ridley-Thomas for county supervisor in 2008 wrote to the court that the prosecution’s six-year jail term was “too lenient.” Mr. Parks said, “The sentencing proposal didn’t mention how Mr. Ridley-Thomas’ misdeeds hurt his coworkers. He lied to his colleagues by seeking their votes without disclosing his corruption. He drove them to the brink of corruption, casting doubt on their honesty and integrity and allowing their constituents to suspect they were participating in his schemes.”
Various Crimes Committed by the Los Angeles Politician
The former police chief urged the judge to impose “the harshest penalty that his offenses allow,” citing Ridley-Thomas’ “continuing reluctance to accept responsibility or show remorse is likewise abhorrent. His race has also been used to erode public faith in the judicial process, and he has encouraged others to do likewise.” Mr. Parks, like Ridley-Thomas, is black. Mr. Ridley-Thomas, according to the prosecution, shook Ms. Flynn and demanded that she assist him and his son in exchange for Los Angeles County business. Ms. Flynn got the message: “Aware that lucrative County contracts and an amendment to the existing Telehealth contract were at stake, Flynn worked tirelessly for over a year to deliver seemingly any benefit and perk at her disposal to please the defendant and his son.”Mr. Ridley-Thomas categorically denied all misconduct. Even though he did not testify throughout the three-week trial, his lawyers maintained that he did not commit a crime. According to federal prosecutors, a long stream of emails and letters demonstrates that Mr. Ridley-Thomas exploited his publicly financed credentials to monetize his elected position and demand benefits for his son.
Mr. Ridley-Thomas’ campaign committee money was secretly moved $100,000 to Policy, Research & Practice, his son Sebastian’s organization. According to prosecutors, Ms. Flynn arranged the transfer to please Mr. Ridley-Thomas. According to prosecutors, witness testimony, hundreds of emails disclosed at trial, and Ms. Flynn’s plea bargain admissions show that the defendant drove and directed this dishonest enterprise.
Defense attorneys sought probation and home confinement rather than jail for their clients. According to the lawyer, his reputation is based on ethical community empowerment. His convictions are both a punishment and a deterrent. “After felony convictions, his public service is over.” He lost his seat on the city council and may lose his pension. At the age of 70, he confronts a grim financial future. To protect the public, no harsh punishment is required.”
Mr. Ridley-Thomas served on the Los Angeles City Council from 1991-2002, then in the Assembly and state Senate before being elected to the powerful county Board of Supervisors in 2008 and returning to the Council in 2020. After the October 2021 federal indictment that identified Ms. Flynn as a co-defendant, Mr. Ridley-Thomas was suspended from the City Council. Heather Hutt became District 10 councilwoman after the guilty judgments.
Attorneys for Ridley-Thomas are appealing his conviction.