Sportscaster Don Tollefson accused of theft, checks self into inpatient care facility
PHILADELPHIA - October 17, 2013 (WPVI) -- Sportscaster Don Tollefson is under investigation, accused of taking people's money in the name of charity, but never delivering on those promises.
Action News has confirmed Tollefson has checked himself into an inpatient care facility, just as complaints started rolling in to law enforcement. His attorney would not say if drugs are to blame.
We have already spoken with a handful of people who say they turned over thousands of dollars to Tollefson for tickets to major sporting events, but they didn't get the tickets, and are doubtful the money went to charities either.
"If I were to stand here and tell you do I feel ripped off? I am awful suspicious," Lou Berman of the charity Louie's Voice said.
"At that point, I'm thinking fraud. I'm thinking I'm putting money in the pocket, no longer with the organization or the Eagles. Have a nice day," Roy Hoolahan said.
On Thursday, the Warminster Police Department confirmed they are investigating dozens of complaints against Tollefson.
Tollefson is a long-time sports commentator who worked for several local stations including WPVI.
"I felt kind of bonded to these kids that he kept sending me their pictures. I guess I was naive thinking I was helping any of them," complainant Tara Eberly said.
Eberly and Hoolihan donated $500 each for tickets and a hotel stay for the Eagles game against Tampa Bay, but that game came and went, with empty promises from Tollefson with tickets that were never delivered.
The money he raised was supposed to go to charities, some for children, others for Wounded Warriors, and fallen officers like Bradley Fox, but now those who paid are left wondering what their donations were spent on.
"There is going to be a ton of disappointed kids," Berman said.
Former football pro and Tollefson friend Bill Osborn says he was duped too.
"I became a little suspicious, and, actually, I became a little worried for him because it wasn't the Tolley that I knew and loved. He was a good guy, and he just wasn't acting like himself," Osborn said.
The first sign something was wrong was when the expensive lower level and sideline tickets Osborn purchased for charity turned out to be seats in the nosebleed section.
"This is way more than $1,500; this is more of a personal thing and anybody who knows Tolley knows how good of a person he is, so I just hope he gets better," Osborn said.
Osborn says Tollefson, who is known in the community for his charity work, was in a major car accident that nearly cost him his life about 2 years ago.
"I know if that hadn't happened, this probably wouldn't have happened," Osborn said.
Tollefson confirmed to Action News he is in an inpatient treatment facility.
"For me it is going to be about patience and probably a few prayers to help him get better," Osborn said.
The Bucks County District Attorney confirms they are also now involved in the investigation. Charges could include theft by taking.
Tollefson issued the following statement to Action News Thursday evening:
In recent months, the programs I have conducted for disadvantaged children have encountered financial challenges. As a result, we have needed to cancel trips and other prize packages and for that I greatly apologize to our generous donors who have taken such a great interest in these wonderful children. In the coming months, we hope to fulfill our obligations, resume our programs and make things right for our donors. I am currently receiving treatment at an inpatient facility. After I am discharged, I will fully address all of the above issues. I am truly sorry for any inconvenience and anxiety caused by these circumstances. Please respect my family's privacy while I resolve these issues.
philadelphia news, local/state, wendy saltzman
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