Disgraced Former LA City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas Sentenced to 3 1/2 Years in Prison

Mark Ridley-Thomas, the disgraced Democrat city councilman for the City of Los Angeles, was convicted on March 30th of seven felony charges, including bribery, fraud, wire and mail fraud. On Monday, Los Angeles U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer sentenced him to three-and-a-half years in federal prison.

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Ridley-Thomas’ indictment and conviction have been covered extensively by the outstanding RedState team. His indictment started an avalanche of political fallout with other prominent Democrat councilmembers, including Council President Nury Martinez, becoming embroiled in their own controversy. You’ll recall how Martinez and fellow councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo were caught making disgusting racist and homophobic remarks about a fellow councilmember’s son in a recorded conversation regarding how to fill Ridley-Thomas’s vacant seat for the 10th district in LA. 

She called a supervisor’s son a Spanish colloquialism for “little monkey,” dubbed Council member Mike Bonin “a bitch,” and said of County District Attorney George Gascón, “F*** that guy. He’s with the Blacks.” I’m no fan of Gascón or Bonin, but this is nasty stuff.

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.” 

In addition to the prison time, Ridley-Thomas was ordered to serve three years on supervised release once he completes his prison time. He also must pay an assessment and fines of $30,700. 

Ridley-Thomas spoke during the hearing, again contending he did not do anything illegal, but he apologized to his family and constituents for the position in which he had put them.

Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Ridley-Thomas to six years behind bars, writing in a sentencing memorandum that he took part in “a shakedown.”

“Not the kind in movies with bags of cash or threats of force. But the kind that is polite and pervasive. The kind that happens too often by sophisticated, powerful people. The kind to which society, sadly, has become so accustomed that it often goes unreported and rarely yields consequences for the offender but strikes a devastating blow to the integrity of our democratic system,” prosecutors wrote.

Ridley-Thomas had what many believed to be a very successful and prominent political career. Having first served on the LA City Council from 1991-2002, he then went on to the state assembly and then state senate, with four years in each position. He then came back to Los Angeles County and served as a Supervisor for the 2nd District for 12 years before returning to the city council. Ironically, however, Ridley-Thomas wasn’t the first County Supervisor to be targeted for corruption. Shortly After his fall from grace, former LA County Supervisor Shiela Kuehl was the subject of a search warrant by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on possible corruption charges. 

It seems the figurative apple doesn’t fall far from the tree for LA City and County Democrats. Whether it’s council members saying racist and homophobic things about their colleagues or, in Ridley-Thomas’s case, accepting bribes from USC to ensure his son could attend, among other things.  

The prosecution was seeking a six-year prison sentence for Ridley-Thomas, with his opponents urging the maximum sentence possible for his crimes. Former LAPD Police Chief Bernard Parks, who lost his city council race to Ridley-Thomas, said that six years wasn’t enough for him. Ridley-Thomas and his legal team plan on appealing the conviction. However, he has to surrender and report to federal prison on November 13th of this year. 

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