Prominent UBC donor David Sidoo charged in alleged U.S. college admissions scheme

Click to play video: 'Prominent Vancouver businessman caught up in U.S. school bribery scandal' Prominent Vancouver businessman caught up in U.S. school bribery scandal
WATCH: Prominent Vancouver businessman caught up in U.S. school bribery scandal – Mar 12, 2019

A prominent B.C. businessman and philanthropist has been charged in connection with an alleged U.S. college admissions scheme.

David Sidoo, 59, is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

An indictment alleges that Sidoo and others conspired to commit mail and wire fraud by “cheating on college entrance exams,” including by having someone “secretly take the exams in place of the actual students, or replace the students’ exam responses with his own.”

It is alleged Sidoo paid $200,000 to have someone take SATs for his two sons in 2011 and 2012.

Court documents claim each test involved paying money to William Singer, who arranged for Florida resident Mark Riddell to fly to Vancouver and take the exams.

One son attended Chapman University, the other UC-Berkeley.

Story continues below advertisement

It’s also alleged Riddell wrote provincial exams in Vancouver for one of the Sidoo children.

Sidoo was arrested on March 8 at the airport in San Jose, Calif., and remained in custody over the weekend. He was released Monday.

WATCH (Aired Nov. 6, 2015): Rebuilding the UBC Thunderbirds

None of the charges has been proven in court.

In a statement, Sidoo’s lawyer said: “The charge that has been lodged against David is an allegation that carries with it the presumption that he is innocent.

“We look forward to presenting our case in court, and ask that people don’t rush to judgment in the meantime.”

Story continues below advertisement

Sidoo is a former CFL player who later found business success in the energy sector. In recent years, Sidoo became a benefactor of the University of British Columbia’s football team. The Sidoo Field at Thunderbird Stadium is named in his honour.

David Sidoo met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after UBCs 2016 Vanier Cup victory.

He has also been a prominent donor to the B.C. Liberals, having given the party more than $166,000 over a 12-year period, including two separate $50,000 donations after the 2013 provincial election.

In 2016, Sidoo was awarded the Order of B.C.

WATCH (Aired April 8, 2017): B.C. Sports Hall of Fame 2017 inductees

Click to play video: 'BC Sports Hall of Fame 2017 Inductees' BC Sports Hall of Fame 2017 Inductees
BC Sports Hall of Fame 2017 Inductees – Apr 8, 2017

Dozens have been charged in what federal officials say is the largest alleged college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department.

Story continues below advertisement

Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were also among those charged in the scheme in which wealthy parents allegedly bribed college coaches and insiders at testing centres to help get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, federal prosecutors said.

“These parents are a catalogue of wealth and privilege,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in announcing the $25-million federal bribery case.

—With files from Richard Zussman and the Associated Press

Sponsored content