Culminating an astonishing descent, former Philly Sports Anchor Don Tollefson pleaded guilty today in a fraud scheme involving 200 victims and at least $317,000 in bogus travel packages, supposedly sold to raise money for charity.
Tollefson told Bucks County Judge Rea B. Boylan that he had struggled with "45 years of alcoholism and drug addiction and multiple mental-health issues."
"I just really want the healing process to begin," Tollefson said after the proceeding, while paying the monthly fee at the county probation office for his ankle-bracelet monitor. "I really want people to understand, and heal myself."
Sentencing was deferred for 60 days to give defense attorney Sharif Abaza time to make a case for leniency, however Abaza said he did expect Tollefson to receive some jail time.
"We're just waiting for our money -- still," said victim Cindy Moffitt, who attended the proceeding,
Tollefson was arrested in February for allegedly selling the packages in part to raise money for charity. For instance, tickets to the Super Bowl or an out-of-town Eagles game often never materialized, nor did some of the promised hotel rooms and airfare, police said.
Tollefson was once the city's highest-paid sportscaster, described by Howard Cosell as the "most extraordinary talent I've ever encountered." Over the years he became known for his charity work.
But at some point, according to police, Tollefson turned his celebrity and philanthropy into a ruse, selling travel packages at bargain prices to admirers who thought they were helping a cause.
Tollefson said that on Oct. 10 he will mark his first anniversary of sobriety.
H/T Philly Inquirer