David Sidoo, of Vancouver, Canada, leaves following his federal court hearing Friday, March 15, 2019, in Boston. Sidoo pleaded not guilty to charges as part of a wide-ranging college admissions bribery scandal. (Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via AP)

B.C. businessman David Sidoo pleads not guilty in U.S. college bribery case

At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents are among those who have been charged in Operation Varsity Blues

Lawyers for a prominent Vancouver businessman say their client has pleaded not guilty in court in an alleged college admissions scam in the United States.

The U.S. attorney office in Massachusetts says in a tweet that David Sidoo has been released by the federal court in Boston on a secured bond of US$1.5 million and his travel restricted to Canada and the United States.

Sidoo was charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud as part of a prosecution by United States authorities of an alleged college admissions scam involving dozens of accused people.

An indictment released Tuesday alleged Sidoo paid $200,000 in total for someone to take an entrance exam on behalf of both his sons, and that he also paid an undisclosed amount for someone to fly to Vancouver and take a high school test.

St. George’s School says a review of its records from 2012 indicates no school or provincial exams were written at the school by the student in question on or around the date referenced by the indictment.

Sidoo, known for his philanthropic causes in B.C., was CEO of Advantage Lithium and is a former Canadian Football League player for the B.C. Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents, including Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, are among those who have been charged in an investigation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues.

No students were charged. Authorities have said that in many cases the teenagers were not aware of what was going on.

READ MORE: Vancouver businessman accused in U.S. college bribe scam takes leave as CEO

Advantage Lithium said Thursday that Sidoo has taken a leave of absence from his executive role as company president and that his responsibilities as CEO have been assumed by another executive on an interim basis.

The law firm representing Sidoo says he “looks forward to fully contesting the charges in a well-respected court and not in the media.”

“He will be returning to his home in Canada and asks people not to rush to judgment.”

The U.S. Justice Department says Sidoo, 59, was arrested in San Jose, Calif., on March 8.

An indictment alleges Sidoo paid $100,000 in 2011 to have an individual secretly take the Scholastic Assessment Test, or SAT, in place of his older son. It also asserts that Sidoo emailed copies of his son’s driver’s licence and student card for the purpose of creating a falsified identification card for the individual.

The individual, whose name is redacted, flew from Tampa, Fla., to Vancouver to take the SAT on behalf of Sidoo’s son, the indictment alleges.

The indictment says the test score was emailed to an administrator at Chapman University, a private California university, where Sidoo’s son was admitted and later enrolled.

The indictment also alleges Sidoo agreed to pay another $100,000 in 2012 for someone to take the SAT in place of his younger son.

It claims that in 2013 and 2014 the falsified SAT scores obtained on behalf of his younger son were sent to universities, including Yale and Georgetown, as part of his college applications. The score was also sent to the University of California-Berkeley, where the younger son was accepted and later enrolled, it says.

Sidoo’s legal team has said the two sons have not been accused of any impropriety.

If convicted of the charge, Sidoo must forfeit any property that is derived from proceeds traceable to the offence, the indictment says.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Katrine Conroy leading in Kootenay West

Preliminary results put NDP candidate firmly in the lead.

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

(Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay)
QUIZ: A celebration of colour

Fall in British Columbia is a time to enjoy a spectrum of vivid colours

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read