A former Canadian Football League player was sentenced Wednesday to three months in prison for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons.
David Sidoo, who played professional football for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and B.C. Lions, 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,” Sidoo said.
Earlier Wednesday, Karen Littlefair of Newport Beach, California, asked U.S District Judge Allison Burroughs for leniency before being sentenced to more than a month in prison for the online course scam. Littlefair said she was “truly sorry” and called the experience a “nightmare” for her family.
“I acted out of love for my son but I ended up hurting my son greatly,” said Littlefair, 57.
Court heard she paid $9,000 to have online classes taken on her son’s behalf.
Both Sidoo and Littlefair appeared before the Boston federal court judges via videoconference because of the coronavirus pandemic.
They are among more than 50 people charged in the college cheating scheme involving wealthy parents and athletic coaches at elite universities across the country. Authorities say the parents worked with the admissions consultant at the centre of the scam, Rick Singer, to have someone cheat on their kids’ exams or get them admitted to selective schools with fake athletic credentials.
Sidoo was CEO of 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.
The Vancouver businessman paid Singer $200,000 to have someone pose as his sons using a fake ID to secure higher scores on their SATs, prosecutors said. Sidoo also worked with Singer to craft an admission essay for his son with a bogus story about the teen being held at gunpoint by Los Angeles gang members and saved by a rival gang member named “Nugget,” prosecutors said.
Last month, the B.C. government said Sidoo has been stripped of his membership in the Order of British Columbia, a process that began after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on March 13.
Sidoo is also known for his philanthropic causes in British Columbia.
After Littlefair’s son was put on academic probation by Georgetown University, she hired Singer’s company to take four online classes on his behalf so he could graduate in 2018, prosecutors said. Three of the courses were taken through Georgetown, prosecutors said, while one was taken online at Arizona State University and then transferred to Georgetown.
Littlefair demanded a discount on the cheating after the person earned a C in one of the courses, authorities said.
“Kind of thought there would have been a discount on that one. The grade was a C and the experience was a nightmare,” she told Singer’s accountant in an email, according to court documents.
Burroughs told Littlefair she taught her son “it’s OK to cheat, it’s OK to take shortcuts.”
“You’re supposed to get more by earning it and working for it and I think that’s a lesson your son needs to learn and sadly he’s going to learn it the hard way here,” the judge said.
Nearly 30 parents have pleaded guilty in the case.
Others 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 as 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.
— With files from The Canadian Press
Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press