British Columbia

Vancouver businessman David Sidoo sentenced to 3 months in prison in college admissions scandal

David Sidoo, a Vancouver businessman and philanthropist who pleaded guilty in the U.S. college admissions scandal, was sentenced to three months in prison on Wednesday in a Boston courtroom. 

Pleaded guilty in March after paying $200K US to have someone write exams for sons

David Sidoo leaves federal court in Boston following a hearing on March 15, 2019. Earlier this year, Sidoo pleaded guilty to one charge of mail fraud conspiracy as part of the wide-ranging U.S. college admissions scandal. (Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe/The Associated Press)

David Sidoo, a Vancouver businessman and philanthropist who pleaded guilty in the U.S. college admissions scandal, was sentenced to three months in prison on Wednesday in a Boston courtroom. 

Sidoo lowered his head into his hands and cried as U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton chided him for his actions. 

Sidoo told the judge he's "deeply ashamed."

"I make no excuses. I broke the law. I pled guilty to a crime and now I must pay for my actions," he said.

The former UBC and CFL football player was found to have paid $200,000 US to have a professional test-writer use false credentials to impersonate his two sons to write their SATs.

The same person also flew to Vancouver to write a B.C. high school graduation exam for one of the sons.

According to the prosecution, Sidoo also worked with the scheme's mastermind, Rick Singer, to concoct a bogus story for one of his son's college admission essays about the teen being held at gunpoint by a Los Angeles gang before being saved by a rival gang member named "Nugget."

William 'Rick' Singer leaves court in Boston on March 12, 2019, after facing charges in the U.S. college admissions scheme. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

In March, Sidoo pleaded guilty in federal court to one charge of mail fraud conspiracy. The plea deal called for Sidoo to serve 90 days in prison and pay a $250,000 fine. 

He had originally pleaded not guilty to multiple charges.

Sidoo was not available for comment, but a statement issued by his lawyers said he has dedicated his adult life to making positive contributions.

"His life should not be defined by its worst moments, and he is committed to a more productive future," it reads.

A defence submission dated July 10 contains a list of Sidoo's charitable works and a description of how he has been affected by being found out.

"Mr. Sidoo is a 61-year-old-man who made a tremendous mistake, out of misplaced love for his sons, that is inconsistent with his entire personal life story," reads the document. "Furthermore, Mr. Sidoo has suffered both physically and mentally."

In March, Sidoo's name was removed from the field at Thunderbird Stadium on the UBC campus. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The submission also includes letters of support from more than a dozen people, including Canadian and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, former B.C. attorney general Wally Oppal, TSN personality Farhan Lalji and former MP and cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal.

Last month, Sidoo's Order of B.C. was revoked. In March, his name was removed from the field at Thunderbird Stadium on the University of British Columbia campus.

Sidoo is the second B.C. parent to be found guilty in the scandal. 

Surrey resident Xiaoning Sui was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine after she admitted to paying $400,000 to secure her son's admission to the University of California, Los Angeles, through bribery as a purported soccer recruit.

Her plea agreement spared her from further jail time. Sui spent five months in jail in Spain, where she was arrested in September 2019.

Surrey, B.C., resident Xiaoning Sui leaves federal court in Boston in February after pleading guilty to paying $400,000 to get her son into the University of California, Los Angeles, as a fake soccer recruit. (Associated Press/Elise Amendola)

More than 50 people have been charged in the college cheating scheme involving wealthy parents and athletic coaches at elite universities across the United States.

Authorities say the parents worked with Singer to have someone cheat on their kids' exams or get them admitted to selective schools with fake athletic credentials. 

Sidoo was CEO of the mining firm Advantage Lithium Corp. when he was arrested last year.

He was also a founding shareholder of an oil and gas company that was sold in 2010 for more than $600 million.

He appeared in court via video link because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Others who have pleaded guilty in the scandal include Full House actor Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who admitted to paying half a million dollars to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California using fake crew recruits. 

They are scheduled to be sentenced next month. If the judge accepts their plea deals, Loughlin will be sentenced to two months in prison and Giannulli will be sentenced to five months.


Karin Larsen


Karin Larsen is a former Olympian and award winning sports broadcaster who covers news and sports for CBC Vancouver.

with files from Associated Press