A New Westminster native is one of 50 people facing charges in an alleged college admissions scam south of the border.
At the centre of the investigation is William “Rick” Singer, 58, of Newport Beach, California. He has been charged with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Singer, who owned and operated a for-profit college counselling business, is alleged to have conspired with dozens of parents, athletic coaches and others to “use bribery and other forms of fraud to secure the admission of students to colleges and universities,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.
Also charged are 33 parents and 13 coaches, including David Sidoo, a well-known businessman and former CFL player who was born and raised in New Westminster.
Sidoo, 59, is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He was arrested on Friday in San Jose, California, according to the release.
The indictment alleges Sidoo conspired with others to commit mail and wire fraud between 2011 and February 2019 by helping students, including his sons, cheat on college entrance exams by having someone else “take the exams in place of the actual students, or replace the students’ exam responses with his own; and submitting falsified test scores to colleges and universities as part of the college admissions process.”
The indictment also alleges Sidoo paid to have an unnamed person write the SATs, a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States, for his sons.
The first incident took place in fall of 2011, when Sidoo allegedly agreed to pay the unnamed individual $100,000 to take SATs for his older son.
According to the indictment, Sidoo emailed copies of his son’s driver’s licence and student identification to the unnamed person and that person used those documents to create the fake ID needed to take the exam. In December 2011, the unnamed person flew from Tampa, Florida, to Vancouver to take the SATs in place of Sidoo’s older son.
In January 2012, Sidoo’s older son was admitted to Chapman University, and the indictment alleges that it was around that time that Sidoo paid the unnamed person the $100,000 for taking the SATs.
In fall of 2012, Sidoo allegedly agreed again to pay $100,000 to have an unnamed person take the SATs for his younger son.
Sidoo allegedly wired the payment to the unnamed person in January 2013.
Sidoo was the first Indo-Canadian player in the CFL, playing six seasons with B.C. and Saskatchewan. He went on to build a successful business career, using that success to support his philanthropic interests through the Sidoo Family Giving charity.
In 2017, he was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
Sidoo has been a longtime support of the Hyacks football program. In 2004, he donated a scoreboard to Mercer Stadium.
When asked for comment about the allegations against Sidoo, Hyacks football coach Farhan Lalji told the Record he thinks Sidoo is an “outstanding human being.”
“He’s done great things for (the New Westminster Hyacks football) program and the UBC program and so many other philanthropic causes. I know his two young boys and they are two of the finest young men I’ve come across. I can’t say a bad thing about him,” he added.
The Record reached out to Sidoo for comment but had not heard back at press time.