Former dean of USC’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, Marilyn Louise Flynn, and Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas were indicted today on federal corruption charges for their alleged role in a bribery scheme.
Flynn and Ridley-Thomas allegedly conspired to provide Ridley-Thomas’ son, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, with admission into USC as a graduate student, a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship with the university in exchange for lucrative L.A. County contracts. Some of the contracts included providing services to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Probation Department, as well as an amendment to a contract with the Department of Mental Health (DMH).
The 20-count indictment also alleges that the two colluded to funnel Ridley-Thomas’ campaign funds through the university to a nonprofit operated by Ridley-Thomas’ son.
The scheme was allegedly concocted in 2017 in an effort by Ridley-Thomas to ensure paid employment for his son — who resigned from his role as a California State Assemblymember following an internal sexual harassment investigation. At the time, the School of Social Work was facing a multimillion-dollar budget deficit, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.
“When the university learned in the summer of 2018 about the $100,000 payment referenced in the indictment, the university disclosed the issue to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and has fully cooperated ever since,” the university said in a statement provided to Annenberg Media. “Marilyn Flynn has not been employed by the university since September 2018. We will continue to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and must limit comments because this is a pending criminal matter.”