The Vancouver businessman alleged to have paid $200,000 for fraudulent SAT scores for his sons allegedly wanted the fraudsters to try and take law and business tests as well, according to U.S. prosecutors.
The new information is contained in an updated indictment against David Sidoo and 14 other parents ensnared in the U.S. college admissions scandal.
Sidoo is charged with mail and wire fraud and participation in a money laundering conspiracy. He has denied all allegations, and is currently on $1.5 million bail.
According to U.S. prosecutors, Sidoo paid William “Rick” Singer two installments of $100,000 in 2011 and 2012 to have Florida test-taking expert Mark Riddell take the SATs on behalf of his two sons.
He also allegedly provided information to help Riddell make fake IDs representing himself as the sons, and hired Riddell to take his older son’s high school graduation test in Vancouver.
But in Tuesday’s updated indictment, prosecutors also allege a conspiracy to have Riddell take the business Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Law School Admission Test (LSAT) for his older son.
The document alleges Sidoo agreed in 2016 to pay “a sum of money” to Singer, who would pay $100,000 to Riddell to have him take one of the tests.
Singer and Riddell then allegedly researched the security measures for both tests, and decided the LSAT would be too difficult to sneak into.
In December 2016, Riddell allegedly wired $520 to China to have fake drivers’ licences made to allow him to pose as Sidoo’s son for the GMAT.
But “the false identifications were not of high quality, and Riddell ultimately decided not to take the exam on behalf of Sidoo’s son,” according to the Indictment.
A previous update to the indictment, issued in April, had hinted at the second test, referencing a phone call between Singer and Sidoo, in which Sidoo mentioned his son was applying for business school and said “I thought you were gonna call me and say I got a 2100 on my GMAT.”
The updated indictment also alleges that Sidoo had Singer write a phony college application essay describing his younger son’s fake internship with an organization that works to fight violence among Los Angeles-based gangs.
“The essay falsely claimed that Sidoo’s younger son had been held up at gun point by gang members in Los Angeles,” states the indictment.
Sidoo apparently balked at that aspect of the paper and wrote back to Singer, asking him to scale back the parts about gang interactions. He finished his email with, “Your call, you know what they look for.”
The final essay, with references to guns removed, was used by Sidoo’s younger sons to apply to multiple colleges, according to the indictment.
In a statement, Sidoo’s lawyer David Chesnoff said there was no truth to the new allegations.
“Let me be clear: the information released today — mere allegations from the mouths of admitted felons,” said Chesnoff.
“Mr. Sidoo has a very robust defense that disputes these allegations, and he looks forward to his day in court when we can present our side of this case.”
The updated indictment includes new charges for a number of the other parents named in the case, and lawyer and money laundering expert Christine Duhaime says it appears prosecutors are trying to ramp up pressure on suspects who have refused to plead guilty.
“For the people who may or may not be holding out for lack of a better word … it seems like, without us knowing too much evidence about what’s going on behind the scenes, it seems like maybe this is an action on behalf of the U.S. government to bring people to the table to talk about settlements,” she said.
Both the wire fraud and money laundering charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in U.S. prison.
The indictment also indicates prosecutors are trying to go after the parents’, including Sidoo’s, assets.
“What he’d be looking at is really the seizure of assets for his whole family and any businesses he owns,” said Duhaime.
“That normally means they intend to seize assets all over the world … bank accounts, stock exchange accounts, holdings, cars, they do normally a thorough financial crime investigation to ascertain assets, then they apply for a court order.”
Sidoo took a leave of absence from his role as president and CEO of East West Petroleum as well as his role as president of Advantage Lithium in mid-March.
Sidoo, a former CFL player, is also a noted philanthropist and has played a major role in supporting the University of British Columbia’s football team.
The university’s Sidoo Thunderbird Stadium bears his name.
A total of 35 wealthy and celebrity parents have been charged in the scheme that showed how far some will go to get their children into top universities like Stanford and Yale.
A number of parents, such as Full House star Lori Loughlin, are also charged with bribery.