Don Tollefson takes the stand in his own defense

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Tollefson took the stand in his own defense today, and listening to him tell it, he?s in a tough spot. (WPVI)

As one court observed put it, it was "a train wreck."
Former Philadelphia sportscaster Don Tollefson spent the day defending himself inside a Bucks County courtroom on Monday.

He is accused of scamming people who thought they were donating to charity.

Tollefson took the stand in his own defense today, and listening to him tell it, he's in a tough spot.

In the court's eyes his social security benefits combined with his estranged wife's income doesn't qualify him for a public defender - he makes too much.

However, he said his estranged wife lost her job, so he can't afford a private attorney.

So today he was defending himself. And as one court observed put it, it was "a train wreck."

Day 1 of Tollefson's defense was intermittent. A word often repeated by the prosecution was "relevance."

The judge had to excuse the jury more than a half dozen times to instruct and guide Tollefson on procedure and the rules of law.

One of Tollefson's alleged victims, Tom Fox, tells us, "I'd rather be water boarded, to be honest. It's horrible. This is a waste of time. It's a waste of taxpayers money and he's just making a mockery of the courts."

Fox is the father of former Plymouth Township Police Officer Brad Fox, who was killed in the line of duty in 2012. Charities for the Fox family are among the roughly 200 victims Tollefson is accused of bilking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bogus sports related travel packages.

Tollefson maintains he didn't rip anyone off, but that he is simply a bad businessmen.

He says he never wanted to represent himself, saying, "When you have counsel withdrawn and you have plea bargains withdrawn, then at least to my knowledge, it makes it very limited in terms of what my options were."

Bucs County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub says, "I'm only concerned that the jury is getting the message, and the message is in the evidence. And I believe we've gotten our message across.

Among those testifying today, a former Lansdale detective who helped show that Tollefson paid tens of thousands of dollars to airlines, ticket brokers and hotels out of his bank account for legitimate sports packages.

Robert Goldman is Tollefson's consulting attorney.

Goldman explains, "I think it's moving along. I think it's going to be finished in the next few days, and the jury will have the case to make a decision."
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