Former Los Angeles County Supervisor and City Council Member Mark Ridley-Thomas was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on Monday after being convicted on corruption charges.
He must report to prison on Nov. 13. His sentence also includes three years of supervised release and a $30,000 fine.
In March, Ridley-Thomas, 68, was convicted of seven corruption charges, among them bribery, fraud and conspiracy.
Ridley-Thomas and Marilyn Louise Flynn, the former dean of USC’s School of Social Work, worked together to funnel $100,000 from a campaign fund through the school and ultimately to a nonprofit run by Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the former supervisor’s son.
In exchange, USC received a “lucrative county contract,” according to prosecutors.
Flynn pleaded guilty to bribery last year, and she was sentenced to three years of probation, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Ridley-Thomas, a longtime fixture in local and state politics, has been harshly criticized by prosecutors.
Ridley-Thomas “defrauded the people of the county,“ U.S. Attorney Martín Estrada said, as quoted by LAist. “Anytime a politician engages in corruption and breaches his duty of trust to the public, it is a great crime that must be brought to justice.”
Despite that, many prominent figures in Los Angeles County have urged leniency on his behalf, including former Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Jackie Goldberg, president of the board of Los Angeles Unified School District, according to the Times.
“I assert that MRT is still among the best our community has ever produced,” Smiley wrote.
District Judge Dale S. Fischer, however, seemed to agree more with prosecutors when sentencing Ridley-Thomas, characterizing the politician’s actions as a “shakedown.”
“There is simply no justification for monetizing a public office,” Fischer added.