B.C. parent charged in alleged admissions scam in the United States

B.C. parent charged in alleged admissions scam in the United States

BOSTON — A woman accused of paying $400,000 to get her son into the University of California, Los Angeles, as a fake soccer recruit has become the 52nd person charged in a sweeping college admissions bribery scheme, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.

Xiaoning Sui, 48, of Surrey, B.C., was charged with a single count of conspiracy and fraud in the indictment unsealed in Boston’s federal court. Authorities say she was arrested in Spain on Monday night and was being held there while they seek to extradite her to the United States.

Sui is the first person to be charged since June, when parent Jeffrey Bizzack pleaded guilty to paying $250,000 to get his son into the University of Southern California as a fake athlete. Dozens of others were charged in March when authorities announced the investigation.

It was not immediately clear whether Sui had an attorney to speak for her.

She is the second person from B.C. to be charged in the investigation.

Prosecutors say Sui paid $400,000 to a sham charity operated by admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer as part of an alleged scheme to have her son admitted to UCLA as a fake soccer recruit. Sui is accused of providing Singer her son’s transcript and photos of him playing tennis.

Singer worked with Laura Janke, a former assistant soccer coach at USC, to fabricate an athletic profile depicting Sui’s son as a top player on two private soccer clubs in Canada, prosecutors said. Both Singer and Janke have pleaded guilty.

Sui’s son was admitted to UCLA as a soccer player in November 2018, authorities say, and was awarded a 25 per cent scholarship.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The case was outlined in a March indictment against former UCLA soccer coach Jorge Salcedo that didn’t identify Sui by name. The document said only that Salcedo accepted $200,000 to help two of Singer’s clients get their children admitted as soccer recruits, including one in October 2018. Salcedo has pleaded not guilty.

A statement from UCLA says it took “immediate corrective action” after the March indictment was released. The school said privacy laws prevent it from discussing specific cases, but officials are “not aware of any currently enrolled student-athletes who are under suspicion” by the Justice Department.

The alleged bribe ranks among the highest in the scheme. Some other parents are accused of making payments of up to $500,000, and some pursued the scheme multiple times, prosecutors say, with payments totalling up to $1.2 million.

Prosecutors did not explain why Sui was not part of the original group of parents charged. Court documents show Sui’s indictment was filed in March but remained under seal until Tuesday.

In April, a Vancouver businessman pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering after he was charged in the investigation.

David Sidoo’s lawyer, Richard Schoenfeld, said at the time the plea was entered in writing after an indictment from the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts accused him of wiring about $100,000 in January 2013 from an account in Canada to an account in California.

The indictment alleges the money was in the name of college-prep company The Key, and meant to be in exchange for admissions consultant’s facilitation of an alleged SAT cheating scheme for Sidoo’s younger son.

Sidoo, a former Canadian Football League player and well-known philanthropist, had already pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

An indictment in March alleged Sidoo paid $200,000 in total for someone to take the SAT 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 graduation exam on behalf of his older son.

The scandal has ensnared dozens of wealthy parents accused of paying bribes to rig their children’s SAT and ACT scores or get them admitted as recruited athletes to elite schools across the nation, including Yale, Stanford and Georgetown universities.

Of the 51 people previously charged, 23 have pleaded guilty, including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, who paid $15,000 to rig her daughter’s SAT score. She was sentenced last week to 14 days in prison, 250 hours of community service and a $30,000 fine.

Another 28 defendants are contesting the charges against them, including “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who are accused of paying to get their two daughters into USC as fake athletes on the crew team.

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

Just Posted

The Red Deer and District Community Foundation needs to sell more tickets to host a raffle that will benefit the Women and Girls Endowment Fund.
Red Deer & District Community Foundation grants $167K to local women’s initiatives

Initiatives supporting women, girls, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse individuals will receive a combined… Continue reading

City of Red Deer says its roundabouts have sharply reduced the number of injury collisions at a pair of busy intersections. Alberta Transportation wants to incorporate five roundabouts into plans to twin Highway 11 from Sylvan Lake to Rocky Mountain House. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Highway 11 roundabouts will increase safety based on Red Deer’s experience

Injury collisions sharply reduced at roundabout intersections in city

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

Alberta reported an additional 643 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province now has… Continue reading

About 110 students from Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools participated in March for Life rally in Edmonton May 9. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school has COVID-19 case

St. Joseph High School in Red Deer confirmed a positive COVID-19 case… Continue reading

Lacombe High School logo.
Two more COVID-19 cases at Lacombe Composite High School

Lacombe Composite High School confirmed two more positive COVID-19 cases at the… Continue reading

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is on the path to grant degrees. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan says university status is not a necessary condition for offering degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

A readers suggests using a hairdryer to open a tight jar lid. (Photo by The Associated Press)
The handy hairdryer hint

Dear Heloise: Whenever you have trouble opening a tight jar lid, set… Continue reading

There are two confirmed COVID-19 cases at Red Deer College. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Central Albertans were promised a university

Central Albertans were promised a university

FILE - Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron sits for a portrait after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, in this Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, file photo. Hank Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth but went on to break the career home run record in the pre-steroids era, died early Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. He was 86. The Atlanta Braves said Aaron died peacefully in his sleep. No cause of death was given. (AP Photo/Ron Harris, File)
Hank Aaron, baseball’s one-time home run king, dies at 86

Hank Aaron, baseball’s one-time home run king, dies at 86

Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson (55) passes the ball around Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Powell, Raptors regroup after blowing lead, beat Heat 101-81

Powell, Raptors regroup after blowing lead, beat Heat 101-81

Tavares scores winner on power play, Leafs beat Oilers 4-2

Tavares scores winner on power play, Leafs beat Oilers 4-2

David Shoemaker, chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, speaks during the Olympic Partnership kick off event at the Sobey's office in Mississauga, Ont. on Monday, October 7, 2019. Shoemaker says the IOC remains committed to staging the Summer Games in Tokyo this summer.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Canada’s Olympic athletes try to tune out reports six months from Games

Canada’s Olympic athletes try to tune out reports six months from Games

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley lifts the Voyageurs Cup after beating Vancouver Whitecaps 5-2 to win the Canadian Championship Final in Toronto on Wednesday, August 15, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Forge FC-Toronto FC Canadian Championship final to be played before April 6

Forge FC-Toronto FC Canadian Championship final to be played before April 6

Canada's Penny Oleksiak reacts after her heat of the women's 50m butterfly at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Friday, July 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Lee Jin-man
Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse among six swimmers named early to Canadian Olympic team

Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse among six swimmers named early to Canadian Olympic team

Most Read