British Columbia

B.C. businessman charged in college admissions scam wanted to pay for more forged tests, prosecutors claim

A noted B.C.-based businessman and philanthropist who allegedly paid $200,000 to have someone take college entrance exams on behalf of his two sons also conspired to cheat law and business exams for the boys, according to new allegations from prosecutors in the U.S.

David Sidoo wanted fraudsters to write law and business exams for his son, updated indictment says

David Sidoo leaves following a federal court hearing on March 15, 2019, in Boston. Sidoo pleaded not guilty to charges as part of a wide-ranging college admissions scandal. (Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via The Associated Press)

A noted B.C.-based businessman and philanthropist who allegedly paid $200,000 to have someone take college entrance exams on behalf of his two sons also conspired to cheat law and business exams for the boys, according to new allegations from prosecutors in the U.S.

The new allegations against David Sidoo were detailed in an updated indictment filed by federal prosecutors on Tuesday. The entrepreneur, charged with participating in a money laundering conspiracy, is one of several parents hit with an array of new accusations this week.

Sidoo was charged with fraud-related offences after authorities in the U.S. revealed a sprawling, nationwide college admissions scandal in March. He was released on $1.5 million US bail and has pleaded not guilty, denying the allegations against him. 

The U.S. investigation has ensnared dozens of wealthy parents accused of paying admissions consultant William (Rick) Singer to cheat college entrance exams or bribe college coaches to guarantee their children acceptance to elite universities. 

David Sidoo's atorney, David Chesnoff, left, tells reporters that 'we look forward to our day in court' after his client, right, pleaded not guilty to fraud charges in federal court in Boston. Sidoo, who is from Vancouver, faces fraud charges in connection with the U.S. college admissions scam. (Melissa Kent/CBC)

In March, Sidoo was accused of paying Singer to have expert test-taker Mark Riddell write SATs for his two sons in 2011 and 2012, as well as a high school graduation exam. The older son was later admitted to a private university in California, while the younger ended up at the University of California-Berkeley.

The updated indictment filed Tuesday said Sidoo went back to Singer, again, years later.

Documents said Sidoo wanted to pay to have the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Law School Admission Test (LSAT) written for his older son in 2015, as his schooling progressed. Prosecutors said Sidoo agreed to pay Singer an unspecified amount to facilitate the cheating, with Riddell to receive another $100,000.

The indictment said Singer and Riddell backed out of the LSAT on April 28, 2015, saying it was "[not] happening due to fingerprinting" security measures. The document said Riddell also decided not to take the GMAT for Sidoo, worried the fake ID created for him wasn't good enough.

William (Rick) Singer leaves the federal courthouse in Boston on March 12, 2019 after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Singer and Sidoo spoke again on the phone more than three years later, on Oct. 25, 2018, prosecutors claim. They said Sidoo explained his son was applying to business school and asked what happened with the GMAT.

"I thought you were gonna call me and say I got a 2100 on my GMAT," the indictment read, claiming to quote Sidoo and noting the GMAT is scored on a scale of 200 to 800.

"They don't have a 2100 ... but I would do my best to get it for ya," Singer allegedly replied.

In addition to allegations surrounding tests, prosecutors said Singer forged an internship application essay for Sidoo's younger son in 2013. 

The indictment said the essay, sent to an organization fighting gang violence in L.A., "falsely claimed that Sidoo's younger son had been held up at gunpoint by gang members in Los Angeles." It said Sidoo asked Singer to remove the story after reading a draft of the essay over email.

"Guns ...? That's scary stuff," Sidoo wrote, according to prosecutors, who said the essay was ultimately submitted without the story.

Felicity Huffman arrives at federal court in Boston to face charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal on April 3, 2019. Huffman pleaded guilty on April 8. (Steven Senne/Associated Press)

A total of 35 wealthy and celebrity parents have been charged in the scheme, including a mother from Surrey, B.C.

Fifteen parents have already pleaded guilty in deals with prosecutors. Of the 10 sentenced so far, nine have received prison sentences, ranging from 14 days to five months. Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman was the first parent to be sentenced and is now serving her 14-day prison sentence.

The parents named in Tuesday's indictment are among those fighting charges.

Singer flipped on the parents during the U.S. investigation and helped the FBI build the case against them for a chance at a lenient sentence. He pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering and conspiracy.

Riddell pleaded guilty to charges against him in April.

With files from the Associated Press

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