On Thursday morning in Bucks County District Court in Warminster, Judge Daniel J. Finello called disgraced former sportscaster Don Tollefson a “big disappointment to everybody in the Delaware Valley” after Tollefson waived his preliminary hearing. Tollefson is facing charges that he stole more than $250,000 from more than 100 victims, all in the name of charity.
“You were a trusted and respected member of the community,” said Finello. “Every night, you gave people some solace after a hard day. Your credibility was never an issue.”
Tollefson, 61, arrived for court in a wrinkled beige suit, his pant cuff caught up on an ankle monitor. He was accompanied by his fourth attorney in the case, Sharif Abaza.
Tollefson was arrested on February 18th, four months after allegations surfaced that he had been scamming people out of money for years. Unable to post bail, Tollefson sat in Bucks County jail for more than a month until Judge Finello changed the conditions and amount of that bail. In late March, Tollefson was transferred to a drug treatment facility for addiction to alcohol and painkillers.
Before Abaza announced that Tollefson would be waiving his hearing, the prosecution was prepared to present 10 witnesses, including alleged victims, as well as video evidence. His arraignment is scheduled for June 27th.
After the hearing, Abaza explained that he would be driving Tollefson from the courthouse back to the treatment facility, and Tollefson thanked members of the media for showing respect to him and his family. One reporter asked Abaza whether the judge's comment was inappropriate, since it's the type of loaded statement normally reserved for sentencing, but the attorney declined to address that point.
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