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Former USC dean pleads guilty in bribery case connected to LA city council member’s son

On Monday, a former University of Southern California dead pleaded guilty in bribery case, which involved a high-ranking politician who said he would guarantee a multi-million contract to the school in return for this son being granted both a scholarship and a faculty position.

Marilyn Flynn, 83, served as dean of USC’s School of Social Work from 1997 to 2018. Flynn made a plea deal with prosecutors and confessed to arranging for $100,000 to be illegally funneled on behalf of Mark Ridley-Thomas in 2018, when he served on the LA County Board of Supervisors.

Flynn and Ridley-Thomas, who now serves on the Los Angeles City Council, were charged last year. Ridley-Thomas’s trial has been penciled in for November. He has been charged with fraud, bribery and conspiracy. He pleaded not guilty last October, only a matter of hours after being suspended and his salary stopped.

Federal prosecutors said that Mark Ridley-Thomas said he would lend his support to a lucrative amendment to a county contract for USC’s School of Social Work, provided that they would assist his son, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, with both a scholarship and a guaranteed teaching job.

Flynn agreed and said that both a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship would be offered a plan to funnel $100,000 was then devised.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas worked as a Assemblyman, however he resigned on the last day of 2017 after accusations were made about him sexually assaulting a Capitol staffer. The $100,000 was then given to his organization, which was known as the Policy, Research & Practice Initiative.

He was later given a $26,000 scholarship for 2018 and was offered a paid teaching position with a $50,000 salary. Authorities said that being both a student and a member of the faculty would violate the school’s policy.

“Ridley-Thomas allegedly wanted to help secure paid employment for his relative to minimize any public fallout for them both in the wake of the sudden resignation from office,” as per a United States attorney’s office statement from last year.

Flynn, who could have been incarcerated for up-to 10 years in federal prison, pleaded guilty to one count of bribery. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend home confinement rather than prison for Flynn and a fine not exceeding $150,000 when she is sentenced next March.

USC hasn’t been accused of any crime or wrongdoing in this case.

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