Ex-CFL football player to plead guilty in U.S. college admissions scam

The Canadian Press

BOSTON — A former Canadian Football League player will plead guilty to paying US$200,000 to have someone take a college entrance exam in place of his two sons as part of an admissions cheating scheme, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

David Sidoo, a businessman from Vancouver, had been scheduled to go on trial in January alongside other prominent parents ensnared in the case, which has roiled the world of higher education.

He is now scheduled to plead guilty Friday in federal court in Boston to a mail and wire fraud conspiracy charge. An email was sent to his lawyer Wednesday seeking comment.

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Prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence of 90 days in prison and a fine of $250,000, according to court documents.

Sidoo was among 15 wealthy parents still fighting the charges after their arrest last March in the sweeping scandal. Nearly two dozen other parents, including "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman, have already pleaded guilty.

Sidoo was accused of paying the admissions consultant at the centre of the scheme $200,000 to have someone pose as his sons using a fake ID to secure higher scores on their SATs. The same person also took a Canadian high school graduation exam in place of his older son, authorities said.

Sidoo, who is known for his philanthropic causes in British Columbia, played professional football for six years for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and B.C. Lions, according to his website . He was CEO of mining firm Advantage Lithium Corp. when he was arrested last year and was also a founding shareholder of an oil and gas company that was sold in 2010 for more than $600 million.

The test taker, Mark Riddell, has pleaded guilty and has been co-operating with investigators.

Sidoo graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1982 where he held a four-year football scholarship with the UBC Thunderbirds. After graduating, he was the first Indo-Canadian to play professionally in the CFL.

He has received the Order of B.C. and is a member of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

His biography on the Hall of Fame website says he grew up in New Westminster and went on to become an MVP defensive back at UBC, where he helped lead the football team to an undefeated season and the school's first ever Vanier Cup national championship in 1982.

— With files from The Canadian Press

The Associated Press

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