Former USC dean Marilyn Flynn will plead guilty in political corruption case involving Mark Ridley-Thomas

Ridley-Thomas now faces trial for allegedly helping his son get a position at USC in exchange for county contracts that benefitted USC

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Photo by Mark Berndt/USC School of Social Work

PUBLISHED: September 15, 2022 at 7:05 p.m. | UPDATED: September 15, 2022 at 9:59 p.m.

The former dean of the USC School of Social Work has agreed to plead guilty to a federal bribery charge in a political corruption case involving suspended Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, prosecutors announced Thursday, Sept. 15.

MarkRidelyscandalMarilyn Louise Flynn, 83, is expected to plead guilty in the coming weeks to the bribery charge and pay a fine of at least $100,000, in exchange for prosecutors recommending that she serve an anticipated 10-year prison term through home confinement, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Ridley-Thomas was indicted last October by a federal grand jury for allegedly taking part in a bribery and fraud scheme during his previous post as an L.A. County Supervisor. According to prosecutors, the bribery and fraud were undertaken to secure his son a paid professorship at USC. He was suspended by the City Council in October of 2021.

His vacant City Council seat was later filled by former councilman Herb Wesson, who in August resigned from his position as a temporary replacement for the indicted Ridley-Thomas after a judge barred Wesson from performing council duties at City Hall.

The Ridley-Thomas indictment says that Ridley-Thomas knew that his son, then-Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, faced sexual harassment accusations and might have to resign from the State Assembly. A federal grand jury indictment said Mark Ridley-Thomas sought a landing pad for his son in exchange for county contracts that benefitted USC.

The senior Ridley-Thomas launched the alleged scheme with then-USC Dean of the School of Social Work Flynn, who was named in the indictment. The school had demoted her, and she resigned in September of 2018.

According to the federal grand jury, Flynn, as dean of the School of Social Work, worked in 2017 and 2018 to provide Ridley-Thomas’s son a graduate scholarship and paid professorship at the School of Social Work.


On October 13, 2021, the Department of Justice in a press release said the indictment found that on December 14, 2017, “About an hour after Ridley-Thomas emailed Flynn saying the high-ranking official was ‘ready to go,’ Flynn expedited the relative’s enrollment at the university, instructing that the admission should be given the ‘highest priority.”

Ridley-Thomas was set to go trial on Nov. 15.


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