Ex-Penn coach Allen says he took $300K bribe

Former Penn basketball coach Jerome Allen testified during a federal criminal trial on Friday that he accepted roughly $300,000 in bribes from a Florida businessman to help get the man's son into the Ivy League school using a basketball priority slot.

Allen, now an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics, pleaded guilty in October to accepting an $18,000 bribe from the man in 2014.

The $300,000 total wasn't disclosed until Allen testified during the $450 million Medicare and Medicaid fraud case involving Philip Esformes, a Miami nursing home mogul.

According to Allen's testimony, which was reported on by Law360.com, Allen also testified that former Penn assistant Ira Bowman, who is currently on Auburn's coaching staff, had knowledge of the scheme and became involved after Allen was forced to resign as the Quakers' coach in March 2015.

Allen told the jury he set up a separate bank account for Esformes to wire him money and gave Bowman a debit card to access the funds.

Allen testified that he trained Esformes' son, Morris, in basketball during several trips to Miami, in which Esformes paid for Allen to stay in beachfront hotels, ride in limousines and attend Miami Heat games.

After the workouts, Esformes handed him plastic bags filled with about $10,000 in cash, Allen told the jury, according to Law360.com. Esformes told Allen his son's dream was to attend Penn and play basketball for the Quakers. If Allen made that happen, Esformes told him, they would be "family for life."

"The one thing I take seriously is when I extend myself to someone, and if they tell me we're family for life, I take it seriously," Allen told the jury. "I took it to mean he was going to make sure I was going to be taken care of, as well."

Allen said he didn't believe Morris Esformes was good enough to play basketball at Penn.

"I just didn't think he was good enough," Allen said. "He was 5-foot-8, wasn't overly athletic. He could handle the ball fairly well, and in my opinion at that time, he wasn't good enough to help our program win."

In the fall of 2014, Allen still put Morris Esformes on a list of priority recruits and slotted him for one of two spots for admission at the prestigious Wharton School of Business.

Morris Esformes is currently a senior at Penn, though he has never played for the Quakers.

Allen faces 10 years in prison, although he is expected to receive a much lighter sentence in exchange for his cooperation. He must repay the $18,000 in bribes and also pay a $200,000 fine.

"I failed on many levels," Allen said in a statement in October. "Primarily, I had a failure of character. I did not live up to the high standards I set for myself, or were expected of me in the position that I held.

"I am heartbroken that my players -- current and former -- will know that I broke the law. But, I do hope that some good may come out of this."

Bowman, a former Providence and Penn player and the 1995-96 Ivy League Player of the Year, was hired as an Auburn assistant in July.

Former Tigers assistant Chuck Person was arrested in September 2017 in a federal bribery case involving college basketball corruption. Person is scheduled for trial in New York in June.

In a statement to the Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday, Penn athletics officials said: "We were extremely disappointed to learn that Jerome Allen, former head men's basketball coach at Penn, accepted payments to recruit a potential student-athlete to Penn and concealed that conduct from the Athletic Department and University administration.

"Until Jerome's testimony last week, we also were unaware that former assistant men's basketball coach Ira Bowman had any relevant knowledge of the matter. The University has been cooperating fully with the government and the NCAA so that the matter is appropriately redressed."