LOS ANGELES – The federal criminal trial for suspended Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas on bribery and conspiracy charges has been delayed until November.
Ridley-Thomas, who was suspended from the council following his indictment in October, faces trial along with former dean of the USC School of Social Work Marilyn Flynn.
The pair were initially scheduled for trial in downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 9, but U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer this week issued an order setting a Nov. 15 trial date.
In particular, Ridley-Thomas’ lawyers say statements made by Flynn to a third party will incriminate the longtime local politician. While the evidence would be admissible in trying Flynn, it would be hearsay in the case against Ridley-Thomas, the lawyers argue.
The defendants are charged in a 20-count indictment alleging a secret deal whereby Ridley-Thomas — when he was a member of the county Board of Supervisors — agreed to steer county money to the university in return for admitting his son Sebastian Ridley-Thomas into graduate school with a full- tuition scholarship and a paid professorship.
Flynn allegedly arranged to funnel a $100,000 donation from Ridley- Thomas’ campaign funds through the university to a nonprofit to be operated by his son, a former member of the state Assembly. The donation prompted an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles that remains open, prosecutors said.
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In exchange, the indictment contends, Ridley-Thomas supported county contracts involving the School of Social Work, including lucrative deals to provide services to the county Department of Children and Family Services and Probation Department, as well as an amendment to a contract with the Department of Mental Health that would bring the school millions of dollars in new revenue.
Both defendants have strongly denied any wrongdoing and promise that evidence will clear their names. Ridley-Thomas has held elected office for more than three decades.
Fisher indicated this week that she would likely deny a defense request to order separate trials for Ridley-Thomas and Flynn.
You can donate to Ridley-Thomas’ legal defense here.