LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to move forward with the suspension of Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas from his post after he was federally charged last week with fraud.
By an 11-3 margin, the council suspended Ridley-Thomas in response to charges of bribery and conspiracy brought by U.S. Attorney's Office against Ridley-Thomas for his time on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. Ridley-Thomas on Monday had announced he would step back from his duties, but would not resign.
The vote comes on the same day that Ridley-Thomas was federally arraigned for the charges, just blocks away from the L.A. City Council meeting - for which Ridley-Thomas plead "Not Guilty."
According to federal prosecutors, Ridley-Thomas purportedly conspired with University of Southern California officials to benefit his son, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, in many facets, including admission to USC, a full-ride tuition and a paid professorship at the university.
Along with this, Ridley-Thomas is purported to have sent millions of dollars worth of county contracts through USC and the School of Social Work, which was at the time headed by Marilyn Louise Flynn, who was also included in the federal indictment.
The motion was initially proposed by Council President Nury Martinez, and was seconded by councilman Mitch O'Farrell.
Councilmen Mike Bonin, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Curren Price voted against the suspension. They have stated that the charges that have been brought against him have nothing to do with his time on the L.A. City Council.
Bonin is worried the suspension leaves residents in the 10th district without representation.
"By taking this action today we disenfranchise them totally…whether we appoint someone at some point, right now we are disenfranchising people," Bonin said.
During the suspension, the city will not pay Ridley-Thomas as a City Councilman. Council members earn nearly $224,000 a year.
Duly elected councilmembers cannot be removed from their position, but they can be suspended without pay, which L.A. Controller Ron Galperin has promised to do if Ridley-Thomas was suspended.
Ridley-Thomas released the following statement Wednesday after the vote:
"I am humbled by the support of my colleagues who did not rush to judgment and disappointed in those who did. Eleven members of this council have stripped the constituents of the 10th District of their representation, of their voice and of their right to the services that they deserve. They have removed from action a member -- and his team -- who together are among the most productive and effective advocates on the crisis of homelessness. I will continue fighting to clear my name, and I remain confident that such will be the case. But in the interim, the council has disenfranchised the residents of the 10th District."
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
for more features.