Ex-USC dean sentenced to home confinement for bribery of Los Angeles County supervisor

25 July 2023

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former dean at the University of Southern California was sentenced to 1 1/2 years of home confinement on Monday for bribing a Los Angeles County supervisor in exchange for renewal of a lucrative contract.

Marilyn Flynn also was ordered to pay $150,000. U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer said she considered sending Flynn to prison but decided instead on home confinement, noting that the former academic had quickly taken responsibility for her actions.

Flynn, 84, was dean of USC’s School of Social Work from 1997 to 2018. She pleaded guilty last year to a federal bribery charge. Prosecutors said that in 2018, she concocted a scheme to funnel $100,000 that Mark Ridley-Thomas provided from campaign funds through the university to a nonprofit run by his son.

Ridley-Thomas offered to support county contracts for USC’s School of Social Work that could potentially bring the institution millions of dollars in new revenue in return for helping his son, prosecutors said.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was a state assemblyman who resigned the last day of 2017 while facing allegations that he made an unwanted sexual advance toward a Capitol staffer. The $100,000 went to his organization, known as the Policy, Research & Practice Initiative, prosecutors said.

The son later received a $26,000 graduate scholarship for 2018 and was offered a paid teaching position with a $50,000 salary, even though being a student and a teacher would violate school policy, authorities said.

Mark Ridley-Thomas also has been a Los Angeles City Council member, a California State senator and a state Assembly member. In March, the then-councilman was convicted of federal corruption charges. He could face years in prison when he is sentenced next month.

At her sentencing hearing, Flynn said she was “greatly embarrassed” and deeply regretted the distress caused to USC by her “lapse in care.”

“I think I would never imagine that in a career of 50 years, the culmination point would be a judgment of wrongdoing,” she said.

The judge agreed.

“A lifetime of dedication and service is something courts don’t often see,” Fischer said, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. “It is unfortunate that such an illustrious career comes to an end (in this way).”

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