David Sidoo charged in US college admission scandal

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David Sidoo the former UBC Thunderbirds football player who later played in the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and B.C. Lions has been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by working with the accused orchestrator of the entire US admission scheme.

Sidoo who is also a major donor to the UBC football team, agreed to pay William Rick Singer to have someone take three tests for his sons: one SAT each and a Canadian high school graduation exam for the elder son.

Singer has pleaded guilty to being the so-called ringleader at the head of the admissions scandal, having taken millions from more than 30 parents in exchange for boosting their children’s chances of getting accepted to leading American schools.

Prosecutors said Singer chose Mark Riddell, another one of his alleged co-conspirators, to write SATs for Sidoo’s sons.

Capability aside, Sidoo and Singer needed to figure out how to get Riddell, then about 29 years old, into the exam room in the place of the two teenagers.

Prosecutors said Sidoo and Singer worked together to create fake IDs.

Sidoo allegedly sent copies of his son’s real identification, like their drivers’ licences, so Singer could make fake ones for Riddell.

The indictment said those IDs showed Riddell’s photo, but Sidoo’s sons’ names.

Prosecutors said Riddell flew from Tampa, Florida, to Vancouver to take the first SAT for Sidoo’s older son on Dec. 3, 2011, having been directed not to get “too high” a score so it would appear believable.

Riddell was hired again to take a high school exam for the same son six months later on June 9, 2012. Again, prosecutors said he flew from Tampa to Vancouver to write the test.

Both of Sidoo’s sons attended St. George’s School, a prestigious private school in Vancouver. In a statement, the school said it has launched its own internal investigation.

The indictment said Sidoo paid another $100,000 to have Riddell write a SAT in Los Angeles, this time for his younger son, that same fall.

Court documents said Singer paid more than $5,500 to cover Riddell’s travel costs.

The indictment said Sidoo wired payments to Singer’s company bank account in January 2013. None of the allegations against Sidoo have been proven in court.

Sidoo’s sons were accepted to elite universities in California based on applications citing those SAT scores. The older son enrolled at the University of California-Berkeley, while the younger was accepted at the private Chapman University.

Riddell was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering earlier this month. Singer has pleaded guilty to the charges against him.

Sidoo was released on conditions after appearing in U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass. earlier this month. The fraud charge against him is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

A statement from Sidoo’s lawyer, Richard Shonfeld, carried a reminder that his client is innocent until proven otherwise and that Sidoo intended to plead not guilty when he appears in federal court in Boston on Friday.

The lawyer also said Sidoo’s children “have not been accused of any impropriety and have achieved great accomplishments in their own right.” -CINEWS

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