Celebrity

College scandal: David Sidoo pleads not guilty in Boston court

David Sidoo pleaded not guilty to a charge of fraud during a court appearance Friday in Boston.

Sidoo was arrested last week in California in connection with what the U.S. Department of Justice called a “nationwide college admissions scam.” The Vancouver businessman, philanthropist and former CFL player was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, accused of paying $200,000 to have someone take U.S. college entrance exams for his two sons in 2011 and 2012.

Sidoo was charged alongside dozens of other defendants, including CEOs, Hollywood stars and U.S. university athletic coaches.

On Friday, Sidoo pleaded not guilty during an initial appearance in Boston district court before Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal. He was released on $1.5 million US secured bond and his travel has been restricted to the U.S. and Canada, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.

Sidoo attended the appearance with Las Vegas-based lawyers David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, and Boston-based lawyer Martin Weinberg. He also brought along a publicist, according to a local courts reporter.

His conditions allowed him to return to Vancouver but he will not be allowed to travel outside of the U.S. or Canada. He must also not speak to anyone else charged in the admissions scam.

Meanwhile, Sidoo has stepped down from his executive roles with a pair of Vancouver-based resource companies.

East West Petroleum Corp., a Vancouver-based oil and gas company, issued a statement Thursday, mentioning the “legal proceedings from the U.S. government.”

The same day, Advantage Lithium Corp., a Vancouver-headquartered lithium explorer and developer, issued a statement saying Sidoo had “taken a temporary leave of absence” from his executive role as president of that company.

The felony charge faced by Sidoo, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, “provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison,” and a fine no greater than $250,000 or double the gross gain or loss, said Kristina Mastropasqua, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.

Penalties and possible sentencing on such convictions can vary widely, and jail sentences on the upper end of the maximum allowable limit are rare, especially for an offender without a criminal history.

But, Mastropasqua said, “It is possible that a conviction could result in some jail time.”

More to come…

With files from Dan Fumano

neagland@postmedia.com

twitter.com/nickeagland

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