B.C. woman arrested in Spain, charged in U.S. college admissions case
Published Tuesday, September 17, 2019 9:46AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 17, 2019 10:43AM PDT
A B.C. woman has been arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation into a college admissions scandal south of the border.
Surrey, B.C., resident Xiaoning Sui is accused of what U.S. Department of Justice calls "using bribery and other forms of fraud to facilitate her son's admission" to a university in California.
She was arrested by Spanish authorities Monday, the DOJ said in a statement posted the next day.
Sui is the 52nd defendant to be arrested in the case.
The scandal is the largest of its kind ever prosecuted by the Justice Department, which claims parents bribed coaches to "recruit" students under sports they didn't play, and paid to have admissions test scores manipulated.
Some are alleged to have paid as much as US$500,000.
Sui, 48, was arrested and charged on a now-unsealed indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
She is currently being detained in Spain, but the U.S. will seek her extradition to face charges.
The statement outlines what prosecutors say happened between last year. None of the allegations has been proven in court.
It is alleged that Sui agreed to pay US$400,000 to ensure her son's admission to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) as a "purported soccer recruit."
Investigators claim she was told by William Singer, a CEO alleged to have helped wealthy students score higher on admissions tests, that the cash would ensure her son was admitted.
More information on other defendants, including Singer, is available on the Department of Justice website.
The DOJ alleges Sui gave Singer her son's transcript and photos of him playing tennis. A soccer profile was created in which Sui's son was described as a top player for two private soccer clubs in Canada, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in the announcement of her arrest.
The charges against Sui carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and three years of supervised release, the office said. Those convicted of the charges could also face fines of US$250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.
Sui is not the only B.C. parent whose name has been tied to the investigation. Vancouver businessman David Sidoo has been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
Lawyers for the former CFL player and philanthropist say Sidoo strongly contests the legal and factual basis for the allegations.
Actress Lori Laughlin, who has also been charged, was briefly detained earlier this year, but was told in March she could return to the Vancouver area for filming of a Hallmark show.
However, The Hallmark Channel said it planned to cut ties with the former "Full House" star in light of her arrest.
Another star tearfully apologized to her daughter in court last week as she became the first parent sentenced in the scandal.
Felicity Huffman was sentenced Friday to two weeks in prison for paying US$15,000 to rig her daughter's SAT scores.
This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the day.