The headline on Friday’s Bloomberg story got right to the point: “Celtics coach Jerome Allen is said to have taken bribes while at Penn.”
The bombshell report alleged that the former Penn Quakers head basketball coach, now a Boston Celtics assistant, was bribed by a Florida businessman to help the businessman’s son gain admission to the school.
According to Bloomberg, the indictment notes that Allen, referred to as Coach 2, isn’t charged with a crime, but that the businessman, Philip Esformes of Miami Beach, gave Allen more than $74,000 in the form of cash, a recruiting trip to Miami, and a separate ride on a private jet in 2013 and 2014. Esformes is charged with health-care fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and bribery.
The allegation is that Allen, who couldn’t be reached for comment, went to bat for the son, Morris Esformes, with Penn’s admissions department. While Ivy League schools don’t provide athletic scholarships, they typically have slots for recruited athletes. Esformes was listed as an incoming Penn Quakers player, but Allen was let go as coach in the months before Esformes got to the school and he never played a game for the Quakers.
A Penn athletic department spokesman said the school had no comment.
An Episcopal Academy graduate, Allen is a Penn basketball icon, a superstar guard from 1991 to 1995 and an Ivy League player of the year. He coached the Quakers from 2009 to 2015 after a long professional career, mostly in Europe, after a couple of seasons playing in the NBA.
According to Bloomberg, the bribery accusations were included in a larger indictment against Esformes, who owns assisted-living facilities in Florida. The report noted that Esformes was initially charged two years ago with carrying out massive health-care fraud involving Medicare and Medicaid claims totaling $1 billion. He has pleaded not guilty and is in jail awaiting trial.