LOS ANGELES (AP) — Days after he was indicted on federal charges, Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said he will “immediately step back” from participation in council meetings and committees, but will not resign.
Ridley-Thomas wrote in a letter to fellow council members on Monday that he will fight the “outrageous allegations” and plans to resume participation on the legislative body “at the earliest appropriate time," the Los Angeles Times reported.
“I fully appreciate the importance of the council being able to conduct its business with minimal distractions,” Ridley-Thomas said in the letter, adding that he was stepping back with that in mind.
Ridley-Thomas, a former Los Angeles County supervisor, was charged last week in a bribery scheme along with Marilyn Louise Flynn, former dean of the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work.
Ridley-Thomas, 66, and Flynn, 83, have each denied the allegations.
Federal prosecutors said that in 2017 and 2018, then-supervisor Ridley-Thomas offered to support county contracts to the School of Social Work — which had a multimillion-dollar budget deficit — in exchange for helping a relative.
In return, Flynn promised to provide the relative with a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship, and concocted a scheme to funnel $100,000 in Ridley-Thomas campaign funds through the university “to a non-profit to be operated by the relative,” said a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.
The indictment refers to the relative only as “MRT Relative 1.”