A Philly area judge entered a $3,300 judgment against former Sports Anchor Don Tollefson, the latest in a series of mounting legal woes over sports trips arranged by the once-prominent broadcaster.
The Philly Daily News reports that District Judge Katherine McGill in Oreland rendered her decision after Tollefson failed to appear to defend claims from an Allentown couple that he sold them a Super Bowl package, then never provided airfare.
The judgment comes as Bucks County prosecutors prepare felony fraud charges against Tollefson on behalf of 100 more people whose claims total $200,000.
"It's not a question of if [he will be charged] - it's a question of when," said Ryan Hyde, a deputy district attorney. Charges could be filed in a month or so, Hyde said.
The alleged victims have told police that Tollefson sold them travel packages to sporting events that failed to include promised hotel rooms, airfare, or game tickets. Tollefson sold the trips through various fund-raisers for charities with which he is associated.
The allegations came to light in October after police in Warminster began to investigate a claim that Tollefson sold a package to an Eagles away game that did not include all the amenities he promised. More people began to call as time went on, police said.
Tollefson, once a sportscaster for Fox29 and 6ABC, entered an unnamed inpatient facility around the time the investigation began, his attorney, Michael McGovern, said last fall, without describing the treatment.
On Tuesday night, a trim-looking Tollefson answered the door at his Glenside home but said he could not comment. He asked a reporter to keep him in his prayers.
Court officials said he had informed them he would attend the hearing on Thursday - about three miles from his house - but he did not. McGill waited about 20 minutes, then ruled.
"I have no choice but to award the judgment in default," she said.
The plaintiffs, Jim Krasley and Donna Stroupe, bought the travel package for the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans.
They sued him to recoup the airfare they had to buy at the last minute after discovering he had not arranged flights for them. If Tollefson does not pay them back in the next 30 days, he could face tax liens and other penalties.
Some people who claim Tollefson owes them money have not gone to the authorities. They include Glen Schwarzchild, a lawyer from Mount Laurel.
He said he and a friend each paid Tollefson $1,800 for a trip to the World Cup this year in Brazil. Schwarzchild said he has since heard from Tollefson's attorney that the trip was canceled. Schwarzchild is still waiting get his money back.
"I reached out to his attorney, and he basically said he's known [Tollefson] for 30 years," Schwarzchild said. "He said he's trustworthy and just got over his head.
"He added: "Pressing charges isn't going to get me anywhere. I'm more interested in getting my money back than him going to jail."