Investigation of sportscaster's charity fundraising expands

Warminster police are investigating claims that Don Tollefson (Center) reneged on promises to provide tickets and travel packages to Eagles games and other sporting events. (courtesy photo)
Warminster police are investigating claims that Don Tollefson (Center) reneged on promises to provide tickets and travel packages to Eagles games and other sporting events. (courtesy photo)
Posted: October 19, 2013

Warminster police said Thursday that they were investigating a growing number of claims that longtime Philadelphia sportscaster Don Tollefson reneged on promises to provide tickets and travel packages to Eagles games and other sporting events.

"Early in the week, we were only getting a few calls," said James Donnelly, Warminster's police chief. "Now, they're calling every day."

Donnelly said the investigation started after a donor at a charity event said he bought Eagles tickets, airfare, and hotel accommodations from Tollefson, but didn't get everything he was promised. Donnelly declined to elaborate.

A call to Tollefson's house was not answered Thursday, and a recording said the voice-mail box was full.

Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said his office was working with Warminster. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations has also joined the investigation, Donnelly said.

"We're still in the early stages," he said. "It's a very dynamic and complex investigation. And it's going to be a little while until we work it all out and understand the complexities of everything."

Tollefson was a sportscaster for Fox29 and 6ABC. Most recently, he hosted Tolly's Awesome Friends, a show on a Cherry Hill-based station. The show stopped airing in April.

In April, he was emcee for a 5K run in Warminster in honor of Brad Fox, a Marine veteran and Plymouth Township police officer killed last year in the line of duty.

The Norristown Times Herald on Monday quoted Tollefson as saying he had canceled all the trips he sold because the airlines and hotels failed to provide the service he expected. He said he had promised to refund the money.

In a statement, Eagles president Don Smolenski said team officials had expressed their concerns to Tollefson.

"To be clear, the Philadelphia Eagles do not have any affiliation with Mr. Tollefson, and he was not authorized to use our trademarked logo or our tickets in this or any promotion," the statement said. "He did not seek or obtain our approval for any facet of this promotion, and we are troubled that he would portray that we were part of this in any way."

News of the allegations unsettled Lou Berman of South Philadelphia, who said he bought from Tollefson a $2,000 travel package to the U.S. Open golf tournament next year in Pinehurst, N.C. He said he bought the package, which included a pair of tickets, airfare, and accommodations, at a silent auction at a charity event in Lafayette Hill.

Berman, who runs the charity Louie's Voice for families with children with autism, said he planned to resell the package and use the proceeds to buy Christmas presents for severely autistic children. Berman said that he had not yet received the tickets and now was wary of trying to sell the trip.

"You have to understand the dynamic here," Berman added. "A lot of people would have looked at this [price] and said, 'It's too good to be true.' But it was legendary Philadelphia sportscaster Don Tollefson."


bfinley@phillynews.com

610-313-8118 @Ben_Finley

www.inquirer.com/bucksinq

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|