Reports: Jerome Allen pleads guilty to taking bribe while coaching Penn

Multiple publications reported Friday that former Penn head coach Jerome Allen pleaded guilty to a bribery-related money laundering charge in Miami federal court this week.

Allen admitted to accepting $18,000 in bribes in 2014 from Morris Esformes, a wealthy Miami Beach businessman who was the father of a then-prospective student, according to multiple outlets. As part of the agreement, Allen will reportedly repay the $18,000 in addition to a $200,000 fine.

Penn fired Allen in March 2015, and he has been assistant coach for the NBA’s Boston Celtics since July 2015. Allen will be suspended from his role as assistant coach by the Celtics for about two weeks, according to the Boston Herald.

Penn Athletics announced in July that it was retaining outside counsel to investigate bribery allegations against Allen, who was the head coach at Penn for six seasons, following reports that Allen took bribes at Penn.

An expanded indictment against Esformes accused him of giving 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, according to Bloomberg.

Penn Athletics declined comment Saturday on Allen’s guilty plea, adding that it not have any updates on outside counsel’s investigation of Allen.

“It was disappointing to hear that Jerome got himself involved in this, but it’s good that he took responsibility,” Celtics team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said, per the Boston Herald. “Right away, from the very beginning, he took responsibility, and I like people that do that.

“This happened well before he was a Celtic, and he’s an important member of our staff. He’s been a good role model to a lot of our young players. It’s a big mistake that he made, but, again, I like the fact that he took responsibility and he owned up to his mistakes and wants to move forward.”

The Boston Herald reported that, in a statement through attorney Ronald Sullivan, Allen apologized for his actions.

“In 2014, before I joined the Celtics organization, and while I served as the Head Basketball Coach of the University of Pennsylvania, I accepted $18,000, as referenced in the Information, from the father of a prospective student for the purpose of using my position as coach to help his son get admitted to the school as a “listed” recruit. My plea agreement with the Government requires me to repay the $18,000 plus a $200,000 fine.

“I failed on many levels. 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 sorry. I let down my family, my friends, my alma mater, and my Celtics family. Even more important, I was not true to my faith. I let down my God.

“I will forever regret exposing my wife and children to this situation. I will spend the rest of my life living up to the ideals that we, as a family, espouse. My family means everything to me.

“Regrettably, I have earned their disappointment. While I cannot undo the past, I can be a better man in all my future interactions. That is my promise to them.

“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. I wish to model to my young players how one accepts responsibility for wrongdoing, including the consequences that come from unlawful behavior.

Esformes was charged two years ago with masterminding the nation’s biggest Medicare fraud racket totaling $1 billion and faces trial on Jan. 28, according to the Miami Herald.

Staff writer Rob Browne contributed to this story.

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