Tollefson arrested on fraud charges
Misappropriation of funds for charitable organization
Jodi Spiegel Arthur
Warminster Township Police arrested former Philadelphia sportscaster Donald Tollefson Tuesday, Feb. 18, saying he fraudulently solicited more than $100,000 from more than 100 people over three years for sports packages he never delivered.
According to the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, Tollefson, 61, of the 8800 block of Duveen Drive, Wyndmoor, Montgomery County, solicited money for charities – including Special Olympics of Pennsylvania, the Salvation Army, and the Brad Fox Foundation – then misappropriated that money.
Deputy District Attorney Ryan Hyde said, although Tollefson is presumed innocent, the investigation “indicates most of his activities were at least at some level fraudulent” during that three-year period.
Tollefson was arraigned in Warminster Tuesday on a first degree felony charge of dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activity, third degree felony charges of theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception and two first degree misdemeanor violations of the Pennsylvania Charitable Organizations statute.
District Judge Daniel J. Finello Jr. set bail at $250,000, and Tollefson was taken to Bucks County’s jail. Hyde said Tollefson’s bail was reduced at a hearing Wednesday morning to $10,000 cash plus Tollefson’s house as collateral. As of 1 p.m., he was still in the jail.
Tollefson’s attorney, Michael J. McGovern, did not return telephone and e-mail requests for comment.
According to court records, Cynthia Moffett and seven friends purchased eight packages from Tollefson last October for an Eagles away game in Denver, following a 5K memorial run for Officer Brad Fox, who was killed in the line of duty in Montgomery County. The packages included tickets, airfare, hotel accommodations and travel to and from the game for two people, for $500 each.
Tollefson, who had served as master of ceremonies for the race, said the money would be divided between the Fox Foundation and his charity, “One Child Saved,” she told police.
Moffett said they never received any information, tickets or refunds, according to a criminal complaint written by Warminster Police Detective John Bonargo Jr. She said Tollefson sold additional packages, for a total of 18, at a tavern in Warminster, after the run.
According to police, Fox’s father, Thomas Fox, said he spoke to Tollefson several times, asking him to either return the money or get people the trips for which they had paid. He also said the “Fox Children’s Fund” had not received any money from Tollefson.
Bonargo said Tollefson’s organizations, “Winning Ways Education” and “One Child Saved,” are not registered charities in Pennsylvania and are not tax exempt. He said they received well in excess of $25,000 in contributions in 2012 and 2013.
According to Bonargo, more than 50 people purchased Eagles away game packages from Tollefson but did not receive tickets or refunds. He said Tollefson also sold packages for the Kentucky Derby, Phillies Spring Training and the 2014 Super Bowl, promising to split the pack age price between the charity sponsoring the event and his charities.
“To date, (police have) received complaints from more than 100 such victims, where none of the arrangements were made nor tickets received. Additionally, (police have) received reports from numerous charities that Tollefson has not tendered the proceeds of his solicitations,” according to Bonargo.
Authorities believe there may be more victims, Hyde said; they are asking those who believe they may have been victimized to call Bonargo at 215-343-0100 or 215- 672-1000.
Hyde said calls have already started coming in. The incidents for which Tollefson has been charged, he said, may be just “the tip of the iceberg.”
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