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HomeMiscellanyDeveloping: Ex-UBC board member charged in U.S. college test fraud probe

Developing: Ex-UBC board member charged in U.S. college test fraud probe


Bob Mackin

David Sidoo, who was a member of the University of British Columbia’s board of governors from 2014 to 2017, is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for allegedly paying six-figure sums to have someone else write his sons’ university entrance exams. 

Sidoo was among dozens of people charged by United States authorities for conspiracy to cheat on exams, pay bribes and commit fraud to gain admission to elite universities.

David Sidoo accepting the Order of B.C. from Premier Christy Clark and Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon in 2016 (BC Gov)

The March 5 federal indictment in Massachusetts against Sidoo, unsealed March 12, alleges that from 2011 to February of 2019, Sidoo “conspired with [names censored] and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury to commit mail and wire fraud by cheating on college entrance exams, including by having [name censored] secretly take the exams in place of the actual students, or replace the students’ exam responses with his own; and submitting the falsified test scores to colleges and university as part of the college admissions process.”

Sidoo did not answer his cell phone when called. A statement from Sidoo’s lawyer, Las Vegas-based Richard Schonfeld, said that Sidoo is a philanthropist “which is the true testament of his character.”

“The charge that has been lodged against David is an allegation that carries with it the presumption that he is innocent,” Schonfeld wrote. “We look forward to presenting our case in court, and ask that people don’t rush to judgment in the meantime.” 

The indictment alleges Sidoo paid someone $100,000 to pose as his older son, Dylan, and write the scholastic aptitude test in 2011 that resulted in admission to Chapman University in Orange County, Calif.. It also alleges that he paid someone $100,000 to pose as his younger son, Jordan, and write the SAT in fall 2012. Sidoo’s younger son applied in 2013 to Yale and Georgetown, but was admitted in 2014 to University of California-Berkeley. Names of Sidoo’s sons are not visible in the indictment and the criminal allegations, which are only against their father, have not been tested in court.

Sidoo graduated the University of B.C. in 1983 with a bachelor of physical education degree after earning most valuable player honours as a defensive back in the Thunderbirds’ undefeated 1982 Vanier Cup championship season. He also played five years in the Canadian Football League with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Sidoo Field at Thunderbird Stadium is named in his honour. The T-Birds were Vanier Cup champions again in 2015. Sidoo celebrated with a May 2016 trip to the Prime Minister’s Office and a photo op with Justin Trudeau. 

After football, Sidoo became a partner at Yorkton Securities and later founded American Oil and Gas Inc., which was sold for US$630 million to Hess Corp. in late 2010. Sidoo, now CEO of Advantage Lithium, was appointed to the board of governors at UBC by Premier Christy Clark and he helped rejuvenate the football program. 

From 2005 to 2017, Sidoo donated $166,010 to the BC Liberals (including $50,000 donations in 2014 and 2015). He also donated $3,000 to the NDP in 2012.

Elections Canada’s database shows that in 2017 he donated $1,550 to Kevin O’Leary’s Conservative leadership campaign and two $1,485 donations to the Conservative Party. Sidoo  also gave $1,500 to the Surrey Centre Federal Liberal Association in 2016 and two $1,022.40 donations to the central party in 2010.  

Sidoo was arrested March 8 in San Jose, Calif. and his initial appearance in court there was March 11. A judge in Massachusetts ordered him on March 12 to submit a $1 million cashier’s cheque to the clerk at the District of Massachusetts court. The cheque, obtained via wire transfer from his account in Vancouver, allows Sidoo to travel to Boston for his first appearance on March 15, where he intends to plead not guilty. Sidoo is represented by lawyers Schonfeld and David Chesnoff of Las Vegas and Mark Weinberg of Boston.

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