British Columbia

David Sidoo pleads guilty in U.S. college admissions scandal

A former Canadian Football League player pleaded guilty Friday to participating in a college admissions cheating scheme by hiring someone to take the SATs in place of his two sons.

Former CFL player pleaded guilty to a fraud charge on Friday

David Sidoo, a Vancouver businessman and former CFL player, hides his face as he arrives at the federal courthouse in Boston on March 13. He entered a guilty plea to a mail fraud conspiracy charge in connection with a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme. (Katherine Taylor/Reuters)

A former Canadian Football League player pleaded guilty Friday to participating in a college admissions cheating scheme by hiring someone to take the SATs in place of his two sons.

David Sidoo, a businessman from Vancouver, pleaded guilty to a mail fraud conspiracy charge in Boston federal court. The plea deal calls for Sidoo to serve 90 days in prison and pay a $250,000 US fine. It must be approved by the judge.

Sidoo was among 50 prominent parents, university athletic coaches and others charged last March in the scheme, which authorities say involved rigged entrance exams and bogus athletic credentials to make applicants look like star athletes for sports they didn't play.

The former athlete said he paid the admissions consultant at the centre of the scheme $200,000 to have someone pose as his sons using fake ID to secure higher scores on their SATs, prosecutors said.

Sidoo, 60, said little in court, except to answer questions from the judge about the plea agreement. His lawyer, Martin Weinberg, declined to comment after the hearing. Sidoo is scheduled to be sentenced on July 15.

He had been scheduled to go on trial in January alongside six other prominent parents still fighting charges in the case. Eight other parents, including Full House actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are scheduled to stand trial in October.

Sidoo joins nearly two dozen parents, including Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman, who have already pleaded guilty. Huffman was sentenced to two weeks in prison. Sentences for other parents range from no prison time to nine months behind bars.

The test taker, Mark Riddell, pleaded guilty last April and has been co-operating with investigators. He has not yet been sentenced.

Sidoo played professional football for six years for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and BC Lions, according to his website. He was CEO of mining firm Advantage Lithium Corp. when he was arrested last year and was also a founding shareholder of an oil and gas company that was sold in 2010 for more than $600 million.

He graduated from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1982, where he held a four-year football scholarship with the UBC Thunderbirds. After graduating, he was the first Indo-Canadian to play professionally in the CFL.

UBC is considering renaming David Sidoo Field at Thunderbird Stadium in light of the guilty plea.

Sidoo previously received the Order of B.C. and is a member of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

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