“Donation from prominent L.A. politician roils USC, which referred case to federal prosecutors”

Quite a story in the LAT:

When state Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas resigned suddenly in December, it marked an abrupt halt to a promising political career.

The son of powerful Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas had enjoyed the backing of his father’s donors and the Democratic Party establishment.

Ridley-Thomas, 30, said at the time that unspecified health problems left him no choice but to step down. He needed “an extended period of time to recuperate,” he wrote in a statement.

Within months, the younger Ridley-Thomas reemerged at the University of Southern California.

The university, which sits in his father’s district, hired him as a professor of social work and public policy. USC also gave Ridley-Thomas, who lacked a graduate degree, a scholarship to pursue a master’s program in social work, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The unusual arrangement has come under scrutiny in recent weeks as the scandal-plagued university attempts to adopt more transparency in its affairs. Administrators launched an investigation and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was fired last month, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

After the internal probe, USC approached the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles. The university told federal prosecutors it had concerns about a recent $100,000 donation from a campaign fund controlled by Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The gift to USC’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work ended up in the account of a nonprofit group outside the university run by Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, according to sources and public records.

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