Former Canadian football player pleads not guilty in college scam
A Vancouver businessman and former Canadian Football League player who prosecutors say paid $200,000 to have someone take the SAT for his two sons appeared in court Friday in Boston to face charges that stem from the nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.
David Sidoo, 59, pleaded not guilty and was released on $1.5 million bail. He is allowed to travel within the United States and Canada.
Sidoo is among the 33 wealthy parents, including top financiers and Hollywood celebrities, who are accused of paying William “Rick” Singer, the admitted ringleader of a sprawling con that funneled some $25 million to Singer-controlled entities over several years.
Sidoo is alleged to have paid Singer’s operation to have another man pose as both of his sons and take their SAT tests for them, according to documents filed in court by federal authorities in Boston earlier this week.
He appeared Friday afternoon in US District Court at the Moakley Courthouse in South Boston before Judge Jennifer C. Boal.
Afterward, Sidoo and his three attorneys met the media outside the courthouse.
“We are going to address all of the allegations in court,” attorney David Chesnoff of Las Vegas said. “And we look forward to our day in court.”
Asked why Sidoo pleaded not guilty, Chesnoff said, “Why do I say not guilty? Because he’s not guilty.”
He is also represented by Richard Shonfeld of Las Vegas and Martin Weinberg of Boston.
Sidoo is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for allegedly paying Singer to have someone take US college entrance exams for his sons in 2011 and 2012.
The charge comes with a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss, whichever is greater, according to the US attorney’s office.
Since being charged Tuesday, Sidoo has taken temporary leave from the two Vancouver companies where he is an executive, East West Petroleum Corp. and Advantage Lithium Corp., according to statements from those companies posted online.
Sidoo in 2011 paid Singer $100,000 to have another conspirator, Mark Riddell, 36, take the SAT for his older son, according to an indictment. Singer cautioned Riddell not to obtain too high a score because Sidoo’s son had already taken the SAT once before and scored 1460 out of a possible 2400, filings show.
Riddell, posing as the older son, took the SAT in December 2011 and scored 1670, according to authorities. The older son was admitted to Chapman University in Orange, Calif., in January 2012.
Also in 2012, Sidoo agreed to pay Singer an unspecified amount to have Riddell secretly take a Canadian high school graduation exam in place of his older son, records show.
Later, Riddell took the SAT for Sidoo’s younger son, this time earning a score of 2280 out of 2400, according to the indictment. Sidoo allegedly paid another $100,000, and the son was accepted to UC Berkeley in March 2014, legal filings show.
Court documents say Sidoo was in contact with Singer as recently as October 2018.
Singer allegedly called Sidoo from Boston, and Sidoo noted that his older son was applying to business school.
“I thought you were gonna call me and say I got a 2100 on my GMAT,” Sidoo said, referring to the business school entrance exam.
“They don’t have a 2100 for the GMAT. But I would do my best to get it for ya,” Singer allegedly answered.
“I know,” Sidoo said.
His next court date is April 18.