Former Dean of USC Sentenced in Bribery Scheme

( – A former dean at what many consider to be California’s flagship university has been sentenced for her role in a bribery scandal that involved a Democratic member of the Los Angeles City Council. Former USC dean Marilyn Flynn was sentenced to 18 months of home confinement and ordered to pay a $150,000 fine by a U.S. District Judge on July 24th.

The 84-year-old Flynn had been facing potential time behind bars, but Judge Dale Fischer said they opted for a sentence of home confinement because the former academic took responsibility for her actions and aided prosecutors in their case against her co-conspirator.

In 2021, Flynn pleaded guilty to a single federal bribery charge that alleged she had masterminded a pay-for-play scheme with LA City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The 2018 ploy involved the LA politician illegally shifting $100,000 of his campaign funds into the hands of his son. This was accomplished by Ridley-Thomas first donating the funds to USC and then having Flynn funnel them back to a nonprofit run by the councilman’s son, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.

In exchange for Flynn’s orchestration of these events, Ridley-Thomas said he would support LA county contracts for the university’s School of Social Work, of which Flynn was the dean. Prosecutors said the contracts could have potentially brought USC millions of dollars in novel revenue.

The councilman’s son later received a graduate scholarship to USC worth $26,000 and was simultaneously offered a salaried teaching position worth $50,000 annually. Offering both items in tandem violated USC policy.

At the time of the crime, Sebastian’s father oversaw a $30 billion budget as chairman of the LA County Board of Supervisors. He was charged alongside Flynn and convicted federally on charges of corruption in March. He faces up to ten years in prison at his August sentencing.

Flynn told the court at her sentencing that she both regretted and was “deeply embarrassed” by her actions.

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