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Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas says he won’t resign, plans to fight bribery charges

Mark Ridley-Thomas speaks standing next his wife. Behind them is a portrait of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Then-County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with his wife, Avis Ridley-Thomas, in November 2020.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

In his first public comments since he was indicted, Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said he wouldn’t resign and plans to fight federal charges that were revealed this week.

Ridley-Thomas is accused of conspiring with Marilyn Louise Flynn, former dean of USC’s School of Social Work, to steer county money to the university in return for admission of his son Sebastian into graduate school with full tuition and a paid professorship. The 20-count indictment includes charges of conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud.

Some of his colleagues on the City Council have called for him to step down or relinquish his committee assignments.

The desperation that brought USC dean, Mark Ridley-Thomas together

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“I have no intention of resigning my seat on the City Council or neglecting my duties. Doing so would be to the detriment of the people I serve, and I have no intention of leaving my constituents without a voice on matters that directly affect their well-being,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement.

“Going forward, I intend to do two things: disprove the allegations leveled at me and continue the work I was elected to do — most importantly, addressing the homeless and housing crisis.”

Ridley-Thomas chairs the City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee and has been a leader in the region’s fight against homelessness dating back to his time on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. He is one of the most powerful figures in Los Angeles politics is the third L.A. City Council member to face federal corruption charges in the last two years.

The charges come at a time when 10 of the city’s 18 elected officials are running for reelection or for higher office.

Times staff writers Dakota Smith, David Zahniser and Julia Wick contributed to this report.


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