Vancouver businessman David Sidoo sentenced to 3 months in prison in college admissions scandal

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David Sidoo, a Vancouver businessman and philanthropist who pleaded guilty in the U.S. college admissions scandal, was sentenced to three months in prison on Wednesday in a Boston courtroom.

Sidoo lowered his head into his hands and cried as U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton chided him for his actions.

Sidoo told the judge he's "deeply ashamed."

"I make no excuses. I broke the law. I pled guilty to a crime and now I must pay for my actions," he said.

The former UBC and CFL football player was found to have paid $200,000 US to have a professional test-writer use false credentials to impersonate his two sons to write their SATs.

The same person also flew to Vancouver to write a B.C. high school graduation exam for one of the sons.

According to the prosecution, Sidoo also worked with the scheme's mastermind, Rick Singer, to concoct a bogus story for one of his son's college admission essays about the teen being held at gunpoint by a Los Angeles gang before being saved by a rival gang member named "Nugget."

Brian Snyder/Reuters
Brian Snyder/Reuters

In March, Sidoo pleaded guilty in federal court to one charge of mail fraud conspiracy. The plea deal called for Sidoo to serve 90 days in prison and pay a $250,000 fine.

He had originally pleaded not guilty to multiple charges.

Sidoo was not available for comment, but a statement issued by his lawyers said he has dedicated his adult life to making positive contributions.

"His life should not be defined by its worst moments, and he is committed to a more productive future," it reads.

A defence submission dated July 10 contains a list of Sidoo's charitable works and a description of how he has been affected by being found out.

"Mr. Sidoo is a 61-year-old-man who made a tremendous mistake, out of misplaced love for his sons, that is inconsistent with his entire personal life story," reads the document. "Furthermore, Mr. Sidoo has suffered both physically and mentally."

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

The submission also includes letters of support from more than a dozen people, including Canadian and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, former B.C. attorney general Wally Oppal, TSN personality Farhan Lalji and former MP and cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal.

Last month, Sidoo's Order of B.C. was revoked. In March, his name was removed from the field at Thunderbird Stadium on the University of British Columbia campus.

Sidoo is the second B.C. parent to be found guilty in the scandal.

Surrey resident Xiaoning Sui was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine after she admitted to paying $400,000 to secure her son's admission to the University of California, Los Angeles, through bribery as a purported soccer recruit.

Her plea agreement spared her from further jail time. Sui spent five months in jail in Spain, where she was arrested in September 2019.

Associated Press/Elise Amendola
Associated Press/Elise Amendola

More than 50 people have been charged in the college cheating scheme involving wealthy parents and athletic coaches at elite universities across the United States.

Authorities say the parents worked with Singer to have someone cheat on their kids' exams or get them admitted to selective schools with fake athletic credentials.

Sidoo was CEO of the mining firm Advantage Lithium Corp. when he was arrested last year.

He was also a founding shareholder of an oil and gas company that was sold in 2010 for more than $600 million.

He appeared in court via video link because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Others who have pleaded guilty in the scandal include Full House actor Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who admitted to paying half a million dollars to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California using fake crew recruits.

They are scheduled to be sentenced next month. If the judge accepts their plea deals, Loughlin will be sentenced to two months in prison and Giannulli will be sentenced to five months.