President Trump on Tuesday commuted the sentence of Philip Esformes, who was serving a 20-year sentence for Medicare fraud and bribery. While in prison, President Trump said, Esformes “has been devoted to prayer and repentance and is in declining health.”
One of those alleged bribes was of the basketball coach at the University of Pennsylvania. The coach is Jerome Allen, who led the Penn program for six years and is now an assistant coach of the Boston Celtics. A federal indictment said that Esformes gave $74,000 in cash, plus additional perks such as limo services and rides in private jets, to Allen, who then placed Esformes’s son on the list of “recruited basketball players,” greatly enhancing the son’s chances of being admitted. Esformes’s lawyer said in 2018 (when the indictment was handed down) that Morris Esformes had good SAT scores and has been doing well at Penn. The problem with that argument, experts note, is that most Penn applicants (including those who are rejected) have good SAT scores and most of them would succeed there — and this is the same for other Ivies and colleges with highly competitive admissions.
Morris Esformes never played basketball at Penn.
Allen testified in the trial that the bribes he accepted were worth $300,000.