A former University of Southern California dean agreed Thursday to plead guilty to bribery, admitting that she arranged an illicit $100,000 payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas when he was on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in return for a USC contract with the county.

Marilyn Flynn, 83, who was dean of USC’s School of Social Work from 1997 to 2018, struck a plea agreement with federal prosecutors that was filed in court late Thursday.

Her admission of guilt strikes a major blow to Ridley-Thomas, now a Los Angeles city councilman who has been suspended while he awaits trial on federal bribery, fraud and conspiracy charges. It was not immediately clear whether Flynn had agreed to testify against Ridley-Thomas.

Flynn could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, but prosecutors agreed to recommend that she be confined to her home in Los Feliz and fined no more than $150,000.

She admitted to a complex bribery scheme that involved funneling $100,000 from a Ridley-Thomas campaign committee through USC to a nonprofit that would pass the money along to the supervisor’s son, who had recently stepped down as a state assemblyman.

Flynn acknowledged that she arranged the payment transfers in return for Ridley-Thomas’ support of a county contract with the School of Social Work to provide online mental health services to patients referred by the county.


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