VANCOUVER — A prominent Vancouver businessman and philanthropist is among 50 people charged in what United States authorities are alleging is the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted.
Advantage Lithium CEO David Sidoo, a celebrated donor to the University of British Columbia and a former Canadian Football League player for the B.C. Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders, is accused of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in Massachusetts.
Sidoo’s lawyer, Richard Schonfeld, said in a statement that his client has been recognized for his philanthropic endeavours, which are “the true testament to his character.”
“The charge that has been lodged against David is an allegation that carries with it the presumption that he is innocent. We look forward to representing our case in court, and ask that people don’t rush to judgment in the meantime.”
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
The U.S. Justice Department says Sidoo, 59, was arrested in San Jose, Calif., on Friday and he appeared in a California court on Monday. No date has been set for his initial appearance in federal court in Boston.
An indictment alleges Sidoo paid $100,000 in 2011 to have an individual secretly take the SAT in place of his older son. Sidoo also emailed copies of his son’s driver’s licence and student card for the purpose of creating a falsified identification card for the individual, it asserts.
The individual, whose name is redacted, flew from Tampa, Fla., to Vancouver to take the SAT on behalf of Sidoo’s son, the indictment alleges. The person was directed not to obtain too high of a score, because Sidoo’s son had previously taken the exam himself and scored 1,460 out of 2,400, it says.
The person used the falsified identification card to pose as Sidoo’s son to take the SAT in his place, scoring 1,670, the indictment says.
The indictment says the score was emailed to an administrator at Chapman University, a private California university, where Sidoo’s son was admitted and later enrolled.
Sidoo also paid someone to pose as his older son to take a Canadian high school graduation exam on his behalf in Vancouver in 2012, the indictment alleges. It does not disclose the amount Sidoo is accused of paying.
Both of Sidoo’s sons attended St. George’s School, a prestigious private school in Vancouver. The school issued a statement Tuesday saying it had only just learned of the allegations.
“We take matters like this very seriously and we are conducting our own internal investigation,” it said.
The indictment also alleges Sidoo agreed to pay another $100,000 in 2012 for someone to take the SAT in place of his younger son. The person was directed to obtain a high score because Sidoo’s younger son had not previously taken the SAT, and the person scored 2,280, it says.
Sidoo paid the agreed-upon sum by wire transfer to a company bank account in California the following year, it says.
In 2013 and 2014, the falsified SAT scores obtained on behalf of his younger son were sent to universities as part of his college applications, including Yale University and Georgetown University, the indictment asserts.
The score was also sent to the University of California-Berkeley, where the younger son was accepted and later enrolled, it says.
The indictment also references an alleged phone conversation between Sidoo and an unidentified individual on or around Oct. 25, 2018. In the call, Sidoo noted that his older son was applying to business school, the indictment says.
“I thought you were gonna call me and say I got a 2100 on my GMAT,” Sidoo allegedly said, referencing a standardized test that is widely used as part of the business school admissions process with a highest possible score of 800.
The unnamed person allegedly responded, “They don’t have a 2100 for the GMAT. But I would do my best to get it for ya,” to which Sidoo allegedly replied, “I know.”
If convicted of the charge, Sidoo must forfeit any property that is derived from proceeds traceable to the offence, the indictment says.
At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents including Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among those charged in the investigation, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues.
No students were charged, with authorities saying that in many cases the teenagers were not aware of what was going on.
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 retired from football in 1988 and pursued a career in brokerages and private investment banking. He was founding shareholder of American Oil & Gas Inc., which was sold in 2010 for over US$600 million, according to his website. He is now CEO of Advantage Lithium, a lithium explorer and developer.
Sidoo has received the Order of B.C. and is a member of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
He is also a former board member of the University of British Columbia, where he helped establish a foundation that supports the Thunderbirds. A field on campus is named after him.
Laura Kane, The Canadian Press
Minority Government passes Bill C10 on internet freedom. Opponents pleading with Senate to block it.
Bill C 10 which is expected to fundamentally affect how Canadians experience the internet, has been hammered through the House of Commons. At 1:30 AM Ottawa time, the minority Liberal Government with help from the BQ and the NDP were able to pass the bill. In opposition were the federal Conservatives and lone Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould. The urgency to pass C 10 before an election call expected later this summer resulted in the Liberals actually shutting down debate at the committee level. That’s only happened twice in the history of the country before now! The Liberals also attempted to pass secret amendments which were caught by the Conservatives and ruled “out of order” by the House Speaker.
Why the rush? Opponents are concerned the Liberals, BQ, and NDP are far more concerned with regulating social media use, than they are with boosting individual Canadians creating new content. It appears the urgency has to do with giving themselves the ability to guide internet content, just in time for the federal election campaign.
OpenMedia.org, a group striving to keep the internet “open, affordable, and surveillance-free” calls the government’s bill “outrageously flawed”. The group published an article called “What’s wrong with Bill C 10?” which asks and answers 8 key questions surrounding C 10. The article provides excellent background knowledge for Canadians concerned about the future of the internet.
OpenMedia says the goal of the bill is to expand “Canada’s Broadcasting Act to apply to all streaming audio or video content on the Internet, including Netflix, Spotify, Youtube, and other popular streaming services.” Streaming services will be forced to make higher payments to the Canada Media Fund which would mean higher rates paid for Canadian users. According to OpenMedia streaming services will charge higher Canadian specific fees, and may even avoid Canada altogether.
OpenMedia calls C 10 a “cash-grab for traditional broadcast industries” which actually does nothing to serve the new wave of content creators who could really use a boost on the international stage. As a last ditch attempt to stop the bill, OpenMedia.org is urging Canadians to email the Senate right now to ask for a REAL democratic examination of Bill C-10.
Conservative critic Pierre Poilievre is especially concerned with the federal government giving itself the power to block unapproved ideas from popular content creators like himself, just in time for the next federal election. Surprisingly, and maybe most concerning of all, both OpenMedia and Pierre Poilievre point out the bill ‘DOESN’T ADDRESS WHAT CANADIAN CONTENT IS’. The current definition of “Canadian Content” was last updated in 1984, more than a decade before the internet changed everything.
Loss of Brother to Addiction and Mental Illness Inspires Sister to Raise Money by Selling Face Masks.
Starting June 10th, until midnight Sunday, June 13th customers across Canada can help raise funds for Mental Health Organizations in their own provinces by purchasing much needed luxury cotton face masks.
Jodee Prouse, from Sylvan Lake, Alberta, co-owner of Service Mask Supply (SMS) is the provider of one of Canada’s best-selling luxury 3-layer Cotton Face Masks. She announced today that they will be donating $1.00 from every mask purchase on June 10, 11, 12 and 13th to Mental Illness Programs and Organizations in communities across Canada. “We all look forward to when we no longer need to wear face masks,” says Jodee, “and we are getting really close. I am proud that we can provide a much-needed product and at the same time allow others the opportunity to come together to raise money for Mental Health in their own communities.”
SMS is excited to announce that for 4 days this week, $1.00 from every mask will be donated to different Mental Health Organizations across Canada. Customers can place their order online, each mask is $5.00, and will ship directly to their homes or businesses. Jodee is proud of her team and orders quickly ship the next business day, leaving from their warehouse in Alberta. All monies collected will go back into each province to where the order was shipped. As an example, Alberta portion will go back to Canadian Mental Health Association Alberta Division, Manitoba to Rainbow Resource Centre and so on. This allows every Canadian the opportunity to make a difference and take part.
From the beginning, SMS had an amazingly simple business model, originally supplying schools and oilfield companies: provide comfortable and affordable masks (each is only $5.00) with patterns that make people smile. Smile. It is what Jodee and her business partner son Ryan believes we need more of right now during these unprecedented times. “My son and I, at different times in our lives, have both struggled with anxiety and depression. We lost a much-loved member of our family when our brother/uncle lost his battle with mental illness and alcoholism when he took his own life in March of 2012. He was only 39. This helped solidify our commitment to helping to eliminate the shame and stigma surrounding mental health.”
Now more than ever we want to bring communities together. And remind people they are not alone.
SMS is proud to be celebrating over 17,000 customers across Canada this week. They know that much of their success has been driven by their passionate customers, repeat business and recommendations to family, friends, and co-workers. “It fills my heart to receive not only Facebook messages and emails daily on how much they love our masks,” says Jodee, “but also the heartfelt words where strangers feel comfortable and safe enough to share some of their own mental health or addiction challenges.”
SMS has over 150 unique colors and patterns with such unique designs as sunflowers, flamingo’s, tie dye, dog lover, pretty kitties, fishing lures, butterflies, hearts, breast cancer, yoga, fine wine, pride, cupcakes and many more. Great for work, play, indoors and outdoors too with sizes for the whole family.
Learn more visit: www.servicemasksupply.ca
For more information you can email [email protected]
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