LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Suspended Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was convicted Thursday on federal bribery and conspiracy charges, along with mail and wire fraud, stemming from a bribery scheme in which he was accused of promising to steer millions of dollars in contracts to USC if his son got a scholarship and a teaching job.
Ridley-Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 14.
Ridley-Thomas showed no reaction as the verdict was read in a packed downtown Los Angeles courtroom. He was convicted on single counts of bribery and conspiracy, along with one count of honest services mail fraud and four counts of honest services wire fraud. Jurors, who reached their verdict on their fifth day of deliberations, acquitted Ridley-Thomas of 12 other fraud counts.
The charges stemmed from what prosecutors called a quid pro quo arrangement between Ridley-Thomas and a former head of the USC School of Social Work, with the politician accused of steering county contracts toward the school in exchange for benefits provided to Ridley-Thomas' son, former California Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.
U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer set sentencing for Aug. 14. Ridley- Thomas has been suspended from the City Council since the indictment was announced.
Ridley-Thomas, 68, of South Los Angeles, has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. He did not testify in his own defense, but his attorneys argued throughout the trial that nothing he did amounted to a crime.
Prosecutors alleged that the longtime local politician, while serving as a Los Angeles County supervisor, "put his hand out" and accepted perks from USC to benefit his son, Sebastian. Federal prosecutors based their case on a long string of emails and letters to bolster allegations that Ridley-Thomas and the former dean of the USC School of Social Work, Marilyn Flynn, had a quid pro quo arrangement during 2017 and 2018 in which the then-dean arranged for Sebastian's admission to USC, a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship in exchange for his father's support for county proposals that would ostensibly shore up the school's shoddy financial picture and save Flynn's job.
However, defense attorney Daralyn Durie countered that nothing Ridley- Thomas did was illegal, and a series of defense witnesses contended that the "paper trail" was not what it seemed.
Flynn, 84, of Los Feliz, pleaded guilty in September to one count of bribery, admitting that she agreed to disguise and funnel $100,000 from the then-supervisor to USC, then to United Ways of California, which ultimately passed the money on to a nonprofit run by Sebastian. The longtime dean of the USC School of Social Work, who departed in 2018, is scheduled to be sentenced June 26.
Although the government argued that Ridley-Thomas accepted help for Sebastian in exchange for his support of USC contracts, including a Telehealth program, that would've helped Flynn's school financially, Durie said the then- supervisor had already been in support of the proposals, so he could not have been bribed.
Ridley-Thomas faces possible prison sentences of up to five years for conspiracy, 10 years on the bribery count, and 20 years for each count of honest services mail and wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
He was suspended from the City Council following the October 2021 federal indictment that also named Flynn as co-defendant and is now expected to lose his seat.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, a longtime friend and political ally, called the verdict a "sad day for Los Angeles."
City News Service and the Associated Press contributed to this report.