Vancouver businessman Dave Sidoo arrested in largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by US Justice Department

Dave Sidoo
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DAVID Sidoo, 59, of Vancouver was arrested on March 8 in San Jose, California, after being charged in an indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He appeared in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday (March 12). A date for his initial appearance in federal court in Boston has not yet been scheduled, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Massachusetts.

According to a press release, dozens of individuals involved in a US-wide conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and the admission of students to elite universities as purported athletic recruits were arrested by federal agents in multiple states Tuesday morning and charged in federal court in Boston. Athletic coaches from Yale, Stanford, USC, Wake Forest and Georgetown, among others, are implicated, as well as parents and exam administrators.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

 

ACCORDING to the indictment, among the manner and mean by which Sidoo and others carried out the conspiracy were the following:

a. cheating on the SAT and ACT by having someone secretly take the tests in place of actual students, or replace the students’ responses with his own;

b. submitting the fraudulently obtained scores as part of the college admissions process, including to colleges and universities in the District of Massachusetts.

In or about the fall of 2011, Sidoo agreed to pay someone $100,000 to have someone secretly take the SAT in place of Sidoo’s older son. In or about September 2011, Sidoo emailed someone copies of his older son’s driver’s licence and student identification card for the purpose of creating a falsified identification card for someone. Someone used the documents to obtain a falsified identification card bearing someone’s likeness and the name of Sidoo’s older son, according to the indictment [the redacted names have been replaced by the words “someone” or “the person” in this news report].

It is alleged that on or about December 2, 2011, someone flew from Tampa, Florida to Vancouver, Canada to take the SAT in place of Sidoo’s older son. Someone directed the person not to obtain too high a score, because Sidoo’s older son had previously taken the exam himself and obtained a total score of 1460 out of a possible 2400.

On or about December 3, 2011, that person used the falsified identification card to pose as Sidoo’s older son in order to secretly take the SAT in his place. The person earned a total score of 1670 out of a possible 2400. After the exam, on December 3, 2011, that person returned to Tampa.

On or about December 23, 2011, someone emailed a copy of the SAT score someone secretly obtained to an administrator at Chapman University, a private university in Orange, California, on behalf of Sidoo’s older son, who was admitted there on or about January 24, 2012, and ultimately enrolled there.

Sidoo paid someone $100,000, as agreed, for having someone take the SAT foe Sidoo’s older son.

It is alleged that in or about 2012, Sidoo agreed to pay someone to have someone secretly take a Canadian high school graduation exam in place of Sidoo’s older son. On or about May 15, 2012, someone purchased plane tickets for someone to fly from Tampa to Vancouver on June 8, 2012, and to return to Tampa shortly thereafter. On or about June 8, 2012, someone flew to Vancouver. On or about June 9, 2012, someone posed as Sidoo’s older son in order to secretly take the Canadian high school graduation exam in his place.  After the exam, on June 10, 2012, the person returned to Tampa.

In or about the fall of 2012, Sidoo agreed to pay someone $100,000 to have someone secretly take the SAT in place of Sidoo’s younger son. On or about October 31, 2012, Sidoo emailed someone a document listing his son’s address and other personally identifiable information for the purpose of creating a falsified identification card for someone, according to the indictment.

Someone used the information to obtain a falsified identification card bearing someone’s likeness and the name of Sidoo’s younger son. On or about November 22, 2012, someone purchased a plane ticket for someone to fly from Tampa to Los Angeles, California on November 29, 2012, in order to take the SAT for Sidoo’s younger son. Someone directed someone to obtain a high score because Sidoo’s younger son had not previously taken the SAT.

On or about November 29, 2012, someone flew from Tampa to Los Angeles. On or about December 1, 2012, someone used a falsified identification card to pose as Sidoo’s younger son in order to secretly take the SAT in his place at a high school in Orange County, California. Someone earned a total score of 2280 out of a possible 2400. After the exam, the person returned to Tampa.

On or about January 21, 2013, Sidoo sent an email to someone asking for wire transfer instructions. On or about January 23, 2013, an employee of the … provided Sidoo with wire instructions for a company bank account in California. On or about January 23, 2013, Sidoo wired $100,000 to the account, as agreed, for having someone take the SAT for Sidoo’s younger son.

In 2013 and 2014, Sidoo’s younger son caused the SAT scores someone secretly obtained on his behalf to be sent to universities in the United States as part of his college applications, including in or about December 6, 2013 to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, on or about November 1, 2013 to the University of California – Berkeley, and on or about March 12, 2014 to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

In or about March 2014, Sidoo’s younger son was accepted to the University of California – Berkeley, and he later enrolled at that university. Someone paid someone approximately $5,000 plus travel expenses for each of the three exams someone took in place of Sidoo’s children.

In addition to the exams someone paid someone to take for Sidoo’s children, someone likewise paid someone to secretly take the SAT and ACT for the children of other co-conspirators known and unknown to the Grand Jury, or to replace their responses with his own, and someone in those instances also bribed the test administrators to permit someone to do so.

According to the indictment, on or about October 25, 2018, someone called Sidoo from Boston, Massachusetts. In the call, Sidoo noted that his older son was applying to business school, adding,” I thought you were gonna call me and say I got a 2100 on my GMAT” – a reference to a standardized test that is widely used as part of the business school admissions process, which is scored on a scale of 200 to 800. The person responded, “They don’t have a 2100 for the GMAT. But I would do my best to get it for ya.” Sidoo replied, “I know.”

 

SIDOO, who was appointed to the Order of British Columbia in 2016, is a highly successful businessman, a leading philanthropist and a highly decorated athlete. He is one of the few who have been inducted into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame, the BC Football Hall of Fame and now, the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

He captained UBC to the university’s first Vanier Cup national championship in 1982 and played six seasons in the Canadian Football League CFL (1983-89) with Saskatchewan Roughriders and BC Lions.

Sidoo also resurrected the high school football program in New Westminster Secondary. He has invested millions of dollars in youth sport across British Columbia, including the Canada Basketball Foundation skills camps, supporting Olympic athletes in training and youth sports scholarships. The Sidoo Field at Thunderbird Stadium is named in his honour.

Sidoo has been promoted in several South Asian newspapers and magazines as a great role model for South Asian youth.

 

ACCORDING to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s press release, William “Rick” Singer, 58, of Newport Beach, Calif., was charged with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Singer owned and operated the Edge College & Career Network LLC (“The Key”) – a for-profit college counseling and preparation business – and served as the CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF) – a non-profit corporation that he established as a purported charity.

Between approximately 2011 and February 2019, Singer allegedly conspired with dozens of parents, athletic coaches, a university athletics administrator, and others, to use bribery and other forms of fraud to secure the admission of students to colleges and universities including Yale University, Georgetown University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, and Wake Forest University, among others. Also charged for their involvement in the scheme are 33 parents and 13 coaches and associates of Singer’s businesses, including two SAT and ACT test administrators.

Also charged is John Vandemoer, the head sailing coach at Stanford University, Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith, the former head soccer coach at Yale University, and Mark Riddell, a counselor at a private school in Bradenton, Fla.

The conspiracy involved 1) bribing SAT and ACT exam administrators to allow a test taker, typically Riddell, to secretly take college entrance exams in place of students or to correct the students’ answers after they had taken the exam; 2) bribing university athletic coaches and administrators—including coaches at Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, the University of Southern California, and the University of Texas—to facilitate the admission of students to elite universities under the guise of being recruited as athletes; and (3) using the façade of Singer’s charitable organization to conceal the nature and source of the bribes.

 

APPENDIX

  1. William Rick Singer, 58, of Newport Beach, Calif., owner of the Edge College & Career Network and CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation, was charged in an Information with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice.  He is scheduled to plead guilty in Boston before U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel on March 12, 2019, at 2:30 p.m.;
  2. Mark Riddell, 36, of Palmetto, Fla., was charged in an Information with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering;
  3. Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith, 51, of Madison, Conn., the former head women’s soccer coach at Yale University, was charged in an Information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud as well as honest services wire fraud;
  4. John Vandemoer, 41, of Stanford, Calif., the former sailing coach at Stanford University, was charged in an Information with racketeering conspiracy and is expected to plead guilty in Boston before U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel on March 12, 2019, at 3:00 p.m.;
  5. David Sidoo, 59, of Vancouver, Canada, was charged in an indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Sidoo was arrested on Friday, March 8th in San Jose, Calif., and appeared in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California yesterday. A date for his initial appearance in federal court in Boston has not yet been scheduled.

The following defendants were charged in an indictment with racketeering conspiracy:

  1. Igor Dvorskiy, 52, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., director of a private elementary and high school in Los Angeles and a test administrator for the College Board and ACT;
  2. Gordon Ernst, 52, of Chevy Chase, Md., former head coach of men and women’s tennis at Georgetown University;
  3. William Ferguson, 48, of Winston-Salem, N.C., former women’s volleyball coach at Wake Forest University;
  4. Martin Fox, 62, of Houston, Texas, president of a private tennis academy in Houston;
  5. Donna Heinel, 57, of Long Beach, Calif., the senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California;
  6. Laura Janke, 36, of North Hollywood, Calif., former assistant coach of women’s soccer at the University of Southern California;
  7. Ali Khoroshahin, 49, of Fountain Valley, Calif., former head coach of women’s soccer at the University of Southern California;
  8. Steven Masera, 69, of Folsom, Calif., accountant and financial officer for the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation;
  9. Jorge Salcedo, 46, of Los Angeles, Calif., former head coach of men’s soccer at the University of California at Los Angeles;
  10. Mikaela Sanford, 32, of Folsom, Calif., employee of the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation;
  11. Jovan Vavic, 57, of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., former water polo coach at the University of Southern California; and
  12. Niki Williams, 44, of Houston, Texas, assistant teacher at a Houston high school and test administrator for the College Board and ACT.

The following defendant was charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud:

  1. Michael Center, 54, of Austin Texas, head coach of men’s tennis at the University of Texas at Austin

The following defendants were charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud:

  1. Gregory Abbott, 68, of New York, N.Y., the founder and chairman of a food and beverage packaging company;
  2. Marcia Abbott, 59, of New York, N.Y.;
  3. Gamal Abdelaziz, 62, of Las Vegas, Nev., the former senior executive of a resort and casino operator in Macau, China;
  4. Diane Blake, 55, of San Francisco, Calif., an executive at a retail merchandising firm;
  5. Todd Blake, 53, of San Francisco, Calif., an entrepreneur and investor;
  6. Jane Buckingham, 50, of Beverly Hills, Calif., the CEO of a boutique marketing company;
  7. Gordon Caplan, 52, of Greenwich, Conn., co-chairman of an international law firm based in New York City;
  8. I-Hin “Joey” Chen, 64, of Newport Beach, Calif., operates a provider of warehousing and related services for the shipping industry;
  9. Amy Colburn, 59, of Palo Alto, Calif.;
  10. Gregory Colburn, 61, of Palo Alto, Calif.;
  11. Robert Flaxman, 62, of Laguna Beach, Calif., founder and CEO of real estate development firm;
  12. Mossimo Giannulli, 55, of Los Angeles, Calif., fashion designer;
  13. Elizabeth Henriquez, 56, of Atherton, Calif.;
  14. Manuel Henriquez, 55, of Atherton, Calif., founder, chairman and CEO of a publicly traded specialty finance company;
  15. Douglas Hodge, 61, of Laguna Beach, Calif., former CEO of investment management company;
  16. Felicity Huffman, 56, of Los Angeles, Calif., an actress;
  17. Agustin Huneeus Jr., 53, of San Francisco, Calif., owner of wine vineyards;
  18. Bruce Isackson, 61, of Hillsborough, Calif., president of a real estate development firm;
  19. Davina Isackson, 55, of Hillsborough, Calif.;
  20. Michelle Janavs, 48, of Newport Coast, Calif., former executive of a large food manufacturer;
  21. Elisabeth Kimmel, 54, of Las Vegas, Nev., owner and president of a media company;
  22. Marjorie Klapper, 50, of Menlo Park, Calif., co-owner of jewelry business;
  23. Lori Loughlin, 54, of Los Angeles, Calif., an actress;
  24. Toby MacFarlane, 56, of Del Mar, Calif., former senior executive at a title insurance company;
  25. William McGlashan Jr., 55, of Mill Valley, Calif., senior executive at a global equity firm;
  26. Marci Palatella, 63, of Healdsburg, Calif., CEO of a liquor distribution company;
  27. Peter Jan Sartorio, 53, of Menlo Park, Calif., packaged food entrepreneur;
  28. Stephen Semprevivo, 53, of Los Angeles, Calif., executive at privately held provider of outsourced sales teams;
  29. Devin Sloane, 53, of Los Angeles, Calif., founder and CEO of provider of drinking and wastewater systems;
  30. John Wilson, 59, of Hyannis Port, Mass., founder and CEO of private equity and real estate development firm;
  31. Homayoun Zadeh, 57, of Calabasas, Calif., an associate professor of dentistry; and
  32. Robert Zangrillo, 52, of Miami, Fla., founder and CEO of private investment firm.

 

www.justice.gov/usao-ma/pr/arrests-made-nationwide-college-admissions-scam-alleged-exam-cheating-athletic

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