B.C. Premier John Horgan will not revoke the Order of B.C. from 2016 recipient David Sidoo.
Sidoo has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with an alleged U.S. college admissions scheme.
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.”
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It is alleged Sidoo paid $200,000 to have someone take SATs for his two sons in 2011 and 2012.
“I have heard of the allegations,” Horgan said.
“Mr. Sidoo of course is innocent until found guilty in a court. Media assertions certainly don’t look good for him and a number of other luminaries, wealthy individuals who may have used their position in society to advance their children’s end.
“These are allegations at this point and I don’t feel any responsibility to do anything other than let due process run its course at this point.”
In the 30-year history of the Order of B.C., no one has had their membership in the order revoked.
Sidoo, an investment banker, was awarded for his philanthropy.
He also donated more than $166,000 to the B.C. Liberal party over more than a decade. He donated $3,000 to the B.C. NDP in 2012.
The Order of B.C. has clear rules prescribed in the Provincial Symbols and Honours Act over how an honour could be revoked. A member could resign from the order by giving written notice of his or her intention to resign, signed by the member.
The Chancellor of the Order could terminate a person’s membership in the order on the recommendation of the advisory council, and with the approval of the executive council.
Horgan would not be able to single-handily strip a recipient of the honour. B.C. Chief Justice Robert Bauman is the chairperson of the advisory council.
“The allegations have yet to run their course and, given the presumption of innocence, it is premature and speculative for the Council to exercise its powers,” Bauman said in a statement.
If a person’s membership in the order is terminated the person must immediately return the insignia of the order that was presented to the person.
Court documents claim each test written on behalf of Sidoo’s sons 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.
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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.
“David Sidoo’s children have not been accused of any impropriety and have achieved great accomplishments in their own right,” reads a statement released by Sidoo’s lawyers Richard A. Schonfeld, David Z. Chesnoff and Martin G. Weinberg on Wednesday.
“Any attack on the Sidoo children is unwarranted. We urge the media to recognize that Mr. Sidoo is presumed innocent and that he intends to appear in court Friday, plead not guilty, and exercise his right to defend himself against the current accusation.”
Steve Fonyo, the one-legged British Columbian who started his run across Canada to raise money for cancer research in 1984, was stripped of his Order of Canada in 2010 for earlier criminal convictions including assault and drunk driving. Fonyo was never awarded the Order of B.C.
Sidoo is a former UBC Thunderbirds football player who went on to play in the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and B.C. Lions. He is a major donor to the UBC football team and Sidoo Field at the university’s Thunderbird Stadium is named in his honour.
“UBC is aware of the indictment against David Sidoo and related media stories,” UBC’s senior director of media relations Kurt Heinrich said in a statement. “It would be inappropriate for the university to comment any further as the case is before the courts.”