- Associated Press - Monday, September 29, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Former Philadelphia sportscaster Donald Tollefson admitted Monday he stole more than $300,000 by selling fake sports-themed trips that he said would help various charities.

Tollefson, 62, pleaded guilty in a Bucks County court to defrauding at least 200 victims through travel packages to the Super Bowl or other sporting events.

Tollefson took money for nonexistent tickets and claimed some of the money would go to charity, said Matthew Weintraub, chief prosecutor at the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.

Weintraub said Tollefson booked some legitimate packages but, over time, “the wheels just fell off,” and customers had nothing to show for their money.

Authorities received a new complaint as recently as Friday, so the list of victims continues to grow.

“People thought to themselves, ‘This is a great deal and a person of Don Tollefson’s stature wouldn’t rip me off,’” Weintraub said. “But sadly, they all were mistaken.”

Tollefson was arrested in February and has been free on bail. He faces a potential jail term on the theft plea, defense attorney Sharif Abaza said.

His sentence, a date for which has not yet been scheduled, is likely to depend on how much restitution he can offer, Weintraub said. The fraud total to date is $317,000, authorities said.

Abaza said Tollefson has grappled with alcohol problems for decades and drug addiction in more recent years. However, he said Tollefson has been sober for nearly a year.

Tollefson worked for the ABC and FOX affiliates in Philadelphia for many years.


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