LA Councilman Ridley-Thomas to receive salary, benefits again as he faces corruption trial

City News Service
Thursday, December 8, 2022
LA Councliman Ridley-Thomas salary restored amid corruption case
Suspended Los Angeles Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who is facing federal corruption charges, has had his city salary and benefits reinstated.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Suspended City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas - who is facing federal corruption charges - had his city salary and benefits reinstated by the council Wednesday after he reached a $364,573 settlement in his lawsuit against the city.

City Controller Ron Galperin suspended Ridley-Thomas' pay and benefits last year after the councilman's indictment for misdeeds allegedly committed while he was a member of the county Board of Supervisors.

Ridley-Thomas was suspended from the council last October after his indictment. The lawsuit claimed that Galperin acted unilaterally to cut Ridley-Thomas' pay and did so to help his campaign for state controller. Galperin finished fifth in the field of six.

The council voted 10-1 to approve the settlement, with Councilman Mitch O'Farrell casting the lone vote in dissent.

The video in the player above is from an earlier report on the Ridley-Thomas lawsuit.

Councilman Curren Price, in a statement, said the council decision "corrects an action that should have never been allowed to happen in the first place."

Galperin's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Galperin leaves office next week.

In a statement after suspending Ridley-Thomas' pay last year, Galperin said he "could not use city money to pay the salary of an elected official facing federal bribery and fraud charges who is now legally unable to do his job.

Price, along with Council President Paul Krekorian, introduced two motions earlier this year asking the city attorney to determine if the city controller has the authority to withhold Ridley-Thomas' pay.

"It is clear the City Controller made a rush to judgment without merit and I'm pleased by the council's decision to resolve this matter fairly," Price said. "Council member Ridley-Thomas has a right to due process and that should take place in the court of law."

Ridley-Thomas and former dean of the USC School of Social Work Marilyn Flynn were charged in a 20-count indictment alleging a secret deal in which Ridley-Thomas -- when he was a county supervisor -- 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 pleaded guilty in September.

The former dean of the USC School of Social 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.

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.

The City Council's 10th District is currently being represented by Councilwoman Heather Hutt, who was appointed by the council to the seat in September. Prior to that, Hutt was serving as a caretaker while Herb Wesson -- who was originally appointed to fill in during Ridley-Thomas' suspension -- was legally barred from performing his duties on the council and eventually had to resign.

In Price's motions, he contended that Ridley-Thomas is suffering an "extreme personal financial burden ... especially if ultimately the litigation is resolved with exoneration."

Ridley-Thomas sued the city and Galperin in July, seeking a ruling to strike down the decision as unlawful, along with attorneys' fees.