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HomeBusinessMystery surrounds B.C. sites where impostor wrote exams

Mystery surrounds B.C. sites where impostor wrote exams


Bob Mackin

Prosecutors in Boston face a May 30 deadline to complete evidence disclosure to the U.S. college admissions scandal defendants, including David Sidoo of Vancouver.

Sidoo tops a list of 19 people named in an April 9 indictment that charged him with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.

Sidoo has pleaded not guilty.

He is accused of paying more than $200,000 for Harvard-educated tennis coach Mark Riddell to write college entrance exams for sons Dylan and Jordan Sidoo, neither of whom are charged.

David Sidoo (left) and Justin Trudeau in 2016 (PMO)

If convicted, David Sidoo could face up to 20 years in prison. His next court date is June 3, but he is not required to attend.

Riddell pleaded guilty on April 12 to fraud and money laundering. Prosecutors allege he traveled from Tampa, Fla. to Vancouver and used false identification to pose as Dylan Sidoo to write an SAT [Scholastic Aptitude Test] test on Dec. 3, 2011 at a venue that has not been disclosed.

Riddell allegedly traveled to Vancouver again, to write a test on June 9, 2012 that is described in the indictment as a “Canadian high school graduation exam.”

The 2011-2012 edition of the Ministry of Education’s Handbook of Procedures for the Graduation Program, obtained via the freedom of information laws, shows that the provincial examinations in 2012 were written June 18-22 and 25-28.

So what test was written on the second Saturday of June in 2012 in the name of Dylan Sidoo? What was the venue? 

June 9, 2012 was the designated date for students to write the standardized ACT test. It is not clear why a student would need ACT scores after a successful SAT.

Dylan Sidoo was a student at St. George’s boys school at the time. In a March statement, the school said “there were no school or provincial exams written at St. George’s School by the student in question on or around the [2012] date named in the indictment.”

Mark Riddell (IMG)

Dylan Sidoo was admitted to Chapman University in California, but later transferred to the University of Southern California where he graduated from the film school.

A statement to from the British Columbia Ministry of Education FOI office said that “no provincial exams are written on a weekend by anyone.”

On May 21, the Ministry said it had not been in contact with any authorities in the U.S. or Canada regarding the Sidoo case, and it has no policies pertaining to SAT and ACT tests.

“Decisions around assessments such as SATs and ACT tests are made by local school districts in cooperation with the responsible U.S. authorities,” said a prepared statement.

Are police in B.C. investigating?

Const. Matthew Rutherford of the Victoria Police Department said his force does not comment publicly “whether there is an investigation or there is no investigation,” except when it is in the public interest or charges have been laid. Sgt. Janelle Shoihet, of the RCMP’s E Division, referred questions to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston.

“I can’t confirm whether we are or not [assisting U.S. authorities],” Shoihet said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston would only say that the investigation continues.

Jordan (left) and Dylan Sidoo ( Inc.)

Meanwhile, one of City of Vancouver’s highest-ranking bureaucrats is a director of the Sidoo-founded 13th Man Foundation, a private supporters’ group for the University of B.C. football program.

City engineer Jerry Dobrovolny was centre when David Sidoo played defensive back on the 1982 Vanier Cup-winning UBC Thunderbirds. Dobrovolny was drafted first overall in the CFL’s 1983 draft and played five seasons with three teams. Sidoo played six seasons with two teams.

One of the 13th Man Foundation’s advisors is Jordan Sidoo, who coxed the varsity rowing team at University of California Berkeley and graduated with a history and political economy degree. Berkeley continues to investigate his admission to the university.

The foundation’s most-recent financial statement, for the year ended Nov. 30, 2017, reported $671,550 revenue and $776,169 expenses.

UBC light pillar recognizes Sidoo donations (Mackin)

UBC and Vancouver city hall are working together to lobby senior governments to fund a subway to the Point Grey campus. Dobrovolny has not returned repeated phone calls or email messages from about his involvement with the foundation.

The Sidoos live in a $35.8 million Point Grey mansion. David Sidoo is involved in several Vancouver-based companies, such as East West Petroleum, Meridius Resources and Advantage Lithium. He stepped down from East West’s presidency on March 14. Dylan Sidoo quit as a director on April 3, but remains CEO of Meridius, which added former BC Liberal cabinet minister Amrik Virk to the board.

Former UBC board member David Sidoo’s donations to UBC led to the naming of the synthetic field at Thunderbird Stadium in his honour. He is named, with wife Manjy, on one of the 20 “leading lights” pillars outside the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre at the Point Grey campus, directly above the entry for “Sidoo Family Foundation – Dylan Sidoo and Jordan Sidoo.” The three-sided light pillars recognize donors of $25,000 and up to UBC.

One of the names on the same pillar is Avi Salh of Solaris Management Consultants, a Surrey-headquartered oil and gas engineering firm with offices in Calgary and Fort St. John. Despite also being a UBC donor and in the same sector, Salh said he is not familiar with Sidoo. “I’ve never done business with him, I don’t know who he is.”

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