Ex-Canadian Football League player admits to college scam, sentencing in July

BOSTON — A former Canadian Football League player pleaded guilty Friday to participating in a college admissions cheating scheme by hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons.

Vancouver businessman David Sidoo pleaded guilty to a mail fraud conspiracy charge in Boston federal court.

The plea deal calls for Sidooo to serve 90 days in prison and pay a $250,000 fine, which must be approved by the judge.

Sidoo was among 50 prominent parents, university athletic coaches and others charged last March in the alleged scheme, which authorities say involved rigged entrance exams and bogus athletic credentials to make applicants look like star athletes for sports they didn’t play.

Prosecutors said Sidoo paid 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.

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.

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.

Sidoo, 60, said little in court except to answer questions from the judge about the plea agreement. His lawyer, Martin Weinberg, declined to comment after the hearing. Sidoo is scheduled to be sentenced in July.

He had been scheduled to go on trial in January alongside six other prominent parents still fighting charges in the case. Eight other parents, including “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are scheduled to stand trial in October.

Sidoo joins nearly two dozen parents, including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, who have already pleaded guilty. Huffman was sentenced to two weeks in prison. Sentences for other parents range from no prison time to nine months behind bars.

The test taker, Mark Riddell, pleaded guilty last April and has been co-operating with investigators. He has not yet been sentenced.

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.

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