Ex-LA Councilmember Ridley-Thomas Gets 3 1/2 Years in Prison

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Mark Ridley Thomas, the disgraced Democrat City Councilman of the City of Los Angeles was convicted of seven felony counts on March 30th, including bribery and fraud as well as wire fraud and mail fraud. On Monday, U.S. district judge Dale S. Fischer of Los Angeles sentenced him to 3 1/2 years in federal prison.

Ridley Thomas’ conviction and indictment have been covered extensively. In the wake of his indictment, other prominent Democrat Councilmembers including Council President Nury Martnez became embroiled in their respective controversy. You may recall that Martinez, Kevin de Leon, and Gil Cedillo made racist and homophobic comments about the son of a fellow council member in an audio recording. The conversation was recorded to determine how Ridley Thomas’s seat in LA’s 10th district would be filled.

She called the son of a supervisor a Spanish colloquialism meaning “little monkey”, called Council Member Mike Bonin a “bitch” and said to County District Attorney George Gascon “F*** him.” Gascon and Bonin are not my favorites, but I find this offensive.

During his sentencing Monday, Ridley-Thomas made no apology for his crimes but apologized to his family and constituents, with Judge Fischer stating, “The entire community has been victimized by [his] crimes…[and he] has not accepted responsibility and has shown no remorse.”

Ridley Thomas was also ordered to serve three additional years of supervised release after completing his prison sentence. In addition, he must pay a $30,700 assessment and fine.

Ridley Thomas spoke at the hearing and again insisted that he didn’t do anything illegal. He apologized for the situation he put his family and constituents in.

The prosecution had requested that the judge sentence Ridley Thomas to six years in prison, writing in their sentencing memo that he was involved in “a shakedown.”

Not the ones in movies that threaten you with force or a bag of money. The kind that is polite, widespread, and ubiquitous. It is the kind of thing that occurs too often and by powerful, sophisticated people. The type to which society has become accustomed, and it is often unreported. It rarely results in consequences for the perpetrator, but strikes a damaging blow to our democratic system.

Ridley Thomas had a career in politics that many considered to be successful and notable. He served as a member of the LA City Council for four years, from 1991 to 2002, before moving on to the State Assembly and finally the State Senate. After serving as a supervisor for the 2nd District in Los Angeles County for 12 years, he returned to the City Council. Ridley Thomas was not the first County supervisor to be accused of corruption, but it is ironic that he wasn’t. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department searched former LA County supervisor Shiela Kuehl shortly after his fall from grace.

The figurative apple doesn’t seem to fall far from the tree for LA City Democrats. It’s not uncommon for council members to say racist and homophobic remarks about their fellow colleagues, or in Ridley Thomas’s case accept bribes, among other things, from USC so that his son can attend.

Ridley Thomas’ opponents wanted the maximum possible sentence for his crimes. The prosecution sought a six-year prison sentence. Bernard Parks, the former LAPD Police chief who lost to Ridley Thomas in his race for city council, stated that six years was not enough. Ridley Thomas and his legal team intend to appeal the conviction. He must surrender to the federal prison by November 13th.