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Ridley-Thomas corruption case built on emails: 'MRT is really trying to deliver here'

Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

FBI Special Agent Brian Adkins testified Friday that subsequent correspondence corroborated the in-person meeting Flynn had with Ridley-Thomas and the veracity of the "confidential letter."

When Flynn saw later action by the supervisors regarding the parole office, she wrote to a colleague, "I talked with Mark about this, and I am very happy to see that he was as good as his word."

But in a surprising move, especially for a case that straddles a private university and a mammoth local government agency, no representative of L.A. County was called to testify before the jury.

To underscore the absence of county officials from the case, defense attorney Daralyn Durie asked the FBI agent, "Do you know what happened after Brenda Wiewel dropped off the letter?"

"No," Adkins replied.

On Friday, Dr. Jonathan Sherin — the former director of the county's Department of Mental Health — had been scheduled to testify and was even in the federal courthouse in downtown L.A.


Prosecutors had called Sherin a "critical gatekeeper" in the process for USC to secure a coveted amendment to a mental health contract — and a gatekeeper who was supposedly influenced by Ridley-Thomas. The indictment in the case alleges that Ridley-Thomas "exerted pressure" on Sherin "to perform official acts favorable to" the contract.

But prosecutors ultimately opted not to summon Sherin to the witness stand.

Nor were any current or former supervisors brought before the jury, despite the FBI agent, Adkins, indicating that an unspecified number of current supervisors were interviewed.

No deputies of Ridley-Thomas were interviewed by the FBI, nor did any testify. Adkins said that this was a "cost-benefit analysis," and that there was scant likelihood any were directly aware of the "agreement" between Ridley-Thomas and Flynn.

"Deputies," he testified, "are likely to show some level of loyalty to their boss."

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