DA: Don Tollefson faces theft charges
Former sportscaster Don Tollefson has turned himself in to authorities to face felony charges for allegedly scamming dozens of people out of more than $100,000 meant to go to charitable organizations.
Authorities allege that Tollefson fraudulently solicited money for charities, victimizing more than 100 people and misappropriating more than $100,000.
The Bucks County District Attorney's Office said Tollefson purported to raise money for charities that included the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania, the Salvation Army and the Brad Fox Foundation over the past three years, but the funds didn't make it to the organizations.
Tollefson turned himself in to Warminster Township police this morning. He is being charged with theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, violations of the Pennsylvania Charitable Organizations statute and other offenses.
He was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Daniel Finello Jr., who set bail at $250,000. Tollefson was jailed after failing to post bail.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27, according to court records.
None of Tollefson's purported charities were registered with Pennsylvania or New Jersey. Nor were they on file with the federal government as 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Tollefson pitched himself as operating the One Child, Winning Ways, Employ Young Adults, and Tackle Hatred Now charities. He also solicited donations via the Internet through his website TixR4Kids.com.
In recent months, victims in the alleged scam have come forward, saying they bought game-trip packages from Tollefson, and were told the funds would go to a charity. But the trips fell through and, despite promises, Tollefson didn't pay the donors back, the alleged victims have said.
Tollefson, who had worked for 6ABC and Fox29, received treatment at an inpatient facility this fall.
In December, an attorney for Tollefson told the Daily News that the allegedly misappropriated money was due to "organizational failures on Don's part in coordinating tickets and things of that nature, out of neglect. Not malice, not avarice and certainly not criminal conduct."
Last month, a Montgomery County judge entered a $3,300 judgment against Tollefson after he failed to appear to defend himself against claims from an Allentown couple. The couple said they filed suit after buying a Super Bowl travel package from Tollefson, but never receiving the promised airfare.
Officials said they believe there may be more victims, and ask anyone with information to call police at 215-343-0100 or 215-672-1000.