After opening statements were presented to the 16-member jury one of the first witnesses to testify in the public corruption trial of Los Angeles Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was the second in command of the USC School of Social Work.
John Clapp, testified Wednesday afternoon that Sebastian Ridley-Thomas had “never completed the application or sent his transcripts,” Clapp wrote in an email shown to jurors.
Later in the spring of 2018, Flynn pushed to get a remote mental health contract amended in a way that would provide $8 million a year in revenue. Clapp said that at one point, Flynn told him “good news”: The contract would be secured.
“She said something to the effect of, ‘but I had to do a little favor to get it,’” Clapp testified. “She winked at me at the end.”
During the Los Angeles mayoral election, it came to light that Karen Bass obtained a degree from the USC School of Social Work and didn’t apply to the school either.
Related: USC offered Karen Bass scholarship before she was admitted to social work school, records show
Clapp testified after former USC administrator Brenda Wiewel said she delivered a confidential letter to Ridley-Thomas’ office on Flynn’s behalf in 2017. To prosecutors, the letter outlines the crux of a quid pro quo between the dean and the lawmaker at a time when Flynn needed government contracts to prop up the financially troubled social work school.
The trial is expected to last until early to mid-April and feature testimony from former USC administrators and professors, political consultants to Ridley-Thomas and officials from across L.A. County. It’s unclear whether Ridley-Thomas will testify before the jury of eight women and four men.
Matt Hamilton contributed to this report.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist for 2UrbanGirls.com and contributing writer for the Los Angeles Wave newspaper.