Vancouver businessman David Sidoo charged in U.S. college bribery scandal

Former CFL player is among more than 40 people charged in alleged conspiracy to fraudulently secure student admissions to post secondary institutions

Vancouver businessman and philanthropist David Sidoo | Submitted photo

Prominent Vancouver businessman David Sidoo is one of dozens of people facing charges in an alleged college admissions scam south of the border.

Sidoo, 59, a former CFL player who was born and raised in New Westminster, is charged in an indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He was arrested on Friday in San Jose, Calif., and was in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California yesterday, according to the release.

Also charged are 33 parents and 13 coaches.

The charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, which said it had arrested William “Rick” Singer, 58, of Newport Beach, California, on charges of 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,” noted a U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts press release.

The indictment alleges Sidoo conspired with others to commit mail and wire fraud between 2011 and February 2019 “by cheating on college entrance exams, including by having [name redacted] secretly 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 that 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 and received the W.A.C. Bennett Achievement Award honouring his contributions to sport, and specifically to football at his alma mater, the University of B.C.

In 2004, Sidoo donated a brand new scoreboard for Mercer Stadium.

Also charged as part of this investigation are Hollywood actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The Record contacted the Sidoo Family Giving charity for comment but has not heard back.