Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas will “immediately step back” from participating in council and committee meetings as he faces federal corruption charges, according to a letter he sent his colleagues Monday.
In the letter to the city council, Ridley-Thomas said he plans to fight the “outrageous allegations” made against him and expects to be exonerated. He is not resigning.
The longtime politician and Marilyn Louise Flynn, 83, the former dean of the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, were indicted on Oct. 13 on charges connected to an alleged bribery scheme. The 20-count indictment accuses Ridley-Thomas, 66, of “supporting county contracts and lucrative contract amendments with the university” in exchange for benefits for a relative in 2017 and 2018, the Justice Department said.
Each is charged with one count of conspiracy, bribery, two counts of “honest services” mail fraud and 15 counts of “honest services” wire fraud.
“Throughout my entire career, I have sought to act with the utmost ethical conviction,” Ridley-Thomas wrote in his letter.
The scheme allegedly occurred when he served on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
At the end of the letter, he said he looks forward to “resuming my participation at the earliest appropriate time.”
Last week, the councilman said he intended to continue working, including focusing on the city’s expanding homeless population and housing shortage. Upon hearing news of the charges, Councilman Joe Buscaino called on his colleague to resign.
“I am shocked, saddened, and disgusted by the Federal bribery charges against Mark Ridley-Thomas,” he tweeted last week. “These charges tarnish the reputation of the entire LA City Council, and because of that, Ridley-Thomas should immediately step down from his position.”
Former Councilman Jose Huizar was indicted in July 2020 on charges he accepted $1.5 million in bribes after FBI agents raided his home. He was stripped of his committee assignments and suspended.
He has pleaded not guilty in that case.