Canadian businessman, California mom get prison terms in U.S. college scandal

Credit: REUTERS/Katherine Taylor

By Nate Raymond

BOSTON, July 15 (Reuters) - A Canadian businessman who once played professional football and a California woman were sentenced to prison and fined on Wednesday after admitting they participated in a vast cheating scheme to help their children get into college or graduate.

David Sidoo, a Vancouver energy executive and former Canadian Football League player, was sentenced to 90 days in prison for paying $200,000 to have someone secretly take the SAT college entrance exam in place of his two sons.

He was sentenced after a Boston federal judge said Karen Littlefair deserved five weeks in prison for paying $9,000 to have someone take online courses for her son so he could graduate from Georgetown University in Washington.

They are among 55 people charged with participating in a scheme in which wealthy parents conspired with a college admissions consultant, William "Rick" Singer," to use bribery and fraud to secure their children's admission to top schools.

Singer pleaded guilty last year to facilitating college entrance exam cheating and using bribery to gain the admission of students to colleges as fake athletic recruits.

The 38 charged parents include "Full House" star Lori Loughlin. She and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, face sentencing next month after pleading guilty.

Prosecutors said that after Georgetown put her son on academic probation, Littlefair paid Singer's company to have an employee take online classes on his behalf.

During a virtual hearing, U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs in sentencing Littlefair to prison and a $209,000 fine called her conduct "terribly misguided parenting."

Littlefair called the case a "nightmare." As a consequence, her son resigned from a U.S. Treasury Department job and lost his degree, her lawyer said.

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton later sentenced Sidoo, 61, to prison plus a $250,000 fine for committing a crime that "displays an unbelievable lack of integrity, morality and common sense."

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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