Expert test-taker pleads guilty in college admissions scandal

Chapman was one of the universities named in the nationwide college admissions indictment that charged 50 individuals with fraud, money laundering and conspiracy charges. Among the people charged was David Sidoo, who paid expert test-taker Mark Riddell $100,000 to take the SAT test for his son, Dylan Sidoo, who was admitted to Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in 2012. Photo by Cassidy Keola

Mark Riddell, an expert test-taker caught up in the nationwide college admissions scandal, pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges in Boston federal court April 12.

Riddell is accused of conspiring with college admissions consultant Rick Singer, who allegedly bribed test administrators to allow Riddell to take the SAT and ACT aptitude exams in place of students, prosecutors say. Among those who allegedly paid Riddell to take the test is Canadian businessman David Sidoo, whose son Dylan Sidoo attended Chapman up until 2014.

David Sidoo allegedly paid Riddell $100,000 to take the SAT in 2011. Riddell used a falsified ID card on behalf of his older son, Dylan Sidoo, according to an indictment, who was admitted to and enrolled at Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in January 2012.

In December 2011, according to the indictment, a copy of the SAT score was emailed to an unidentified Chapman administrator.

When Dylan Sidoo took the exam on an unspecified date, he scored 1460 out of 2400. When Riddell took the test for him in 2011, he scored 1670 out of 2400, after allegedly being instructed by another individual whose name is also redacted to “not to obtain too high a score” because of Dylan Sidoo’s previous low score, according to the indictment.

Singer would typically arrange for Riddell to be paid around $10,000 per exam, according to the indictment. In one instance, according to court documents, Riddell completed an exam in a hotel room in Houston, Texas. He would sometimes predict the test scores, once correctly projecting that he had scored 35 out of the 36 on the ACT.

Daniele Struppa, Chapman’s president, wrote in a March 12 email statement to The Panther that Chapman takes the matter “very seriously.”

“We are not aware nor have we been advised that we have been involved in any wrongdoing,” Struppa wrote.

David Sidoo faces a new charge of money laundering in the case, but is denying the charges. In the wake of the scandal, he stepped down as CEO of Canada-based East West Petroleum March 14. On April 3, Dylan Sidoo resigned as director of the company’s board, according to a press release from the company.