On Monday, June 26, Judge Dale S. Fischer will hear two motions by former Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas’ defense team to reconsider the jury’s guilty verdicts, which were rendered in March of this year.
These Rule 29 and Rule 33 procedural motions are considered long shots by legal experts and are prerequisites to Ridley-Thomas’s August 21st sentencing and appeal.
In the court filings, the Ridley-Thomas defense team asserts that the prosecution’s case relied on false testimony and incomplete investigations of the facts by the FBI’s lead investigator and government’s star witness. Defense lawyers for Ridley-Thomas have filed two motions with the court arguing that his conviction be overturned and that he deserves a new trial.
His defense team argues in the court filings that the government’s star witness, FBI Agent Brian Adkins, gave false testimony on at least three occasions. In their second filing, the defense team outlines multiple instances where the government failed to present sufficient evidence on the charges and in some cases, argues “a total failure of proof,” which should lead, according to the filings, to an outright acquittal of the jury’s conviction.
On March 30, the jury found Ridley-Thomas guilty of four counts of honest services wire fraud and one count each of bribery, conspiracy and honest services mail fraud. The case stemmed from his time as a member of L.A. County’s powerful Board of Supervisors and involved his support of a contract with USC’s School of Social Work for Tele-Health, a virtual mental health treatment program run by the university.
The jury, however, did find Ridley-Thomas not guilty of all fraud counts related to Probation University and the Vermont Street Reentry Center, as well as all counts related to the USC admission, scholarship, and Professor of Practice appointment of his son, former Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.
In all, Ridley-Thomas was found guilty on seven counts and not guilty of 12 of the 19 charges brought against him by the government.
The conviction brought an immediate end to Ridley-Thomas term as an L.A. City Council member and sent shockwaves throughout Los Angeles African American Community where Ridley-Thomas has served and been a fearless advocate for over three decades.
A group of Ridley Thomas supporters calling themselves CD10 Voices has once again called for “public demonstration of support for MRT.” They allege that community support remains critically important to illustrate wide skepticism about the verdict, the depth of interest in the case and the strength of solidarity with the defendant.
In an urgent plea for backers, CD 10 Voices wrote in an email that “in the interest of fairness and justice, please plan to attend the hearing on Monday, June 26.”