Holding a Bible in one hand and standing on a chilly street corner in North Philadelphia, former Philadelphia sportscaster Don Tollefson on Monday summoned a group of reporters to talk almost exclusively about his struggles with alcohol and his faith in God.
For nearly 20 minutes, he praised a scientific journal on alcoholism, first responders for their work with overdoses, and a local church for helping him find strength.
"No matter what one's belief system is, in the recovery movement we talk often about having a higher power who can help you," he said about his Christianity.
But Tollefson said little - and nothing new - about the $300,000-plus fraud case against him. Tollefson said he would continue to fight the charges, but he did not elaborate on new evidence he recently said he had or go into detail about his defense.
Tollefson, 62, called reporters to a corner near his apartment, he said, to offer a more in-depth explanation for his about-face in a Bucks County courtroom last week.
Instead, Tollefson said only that he was seeking a lawyer to represent him free, that the money involved in the case is less than reported, and that he was trying to raise funds for restitution of any money he owed anyone.
Tollefson tentatively pleaded guilty in September to selling more than 200 people about $317,000 worth of phony travel packages. But he withdrew his guilty plea last Monday and said he would fight the charges at trial and serve as his own attorney.
The onetime celebrity broadcaster had told a Bucks County Court judge he has new evidence to bolster his defense - although he did not elaborate - and said he believed the matter should be heard in civil court, not criminal.
His attorney, Sharif Abaza, said that he disagreed with Tollefson's decision and withdrew from the case because "at this point, I don't know what more I can do."
Matt Weintraub, Bucks County's chief of prosecutions, said last week that he would be prepared for a trial Jan. 5.
Tollefson also described then what he said were a series of other life changes since he decided to plead guilty, including a rededication to Christian faith. He said he had sought spiritual counseling and has "prayed considerably on this matter."
Speaking to reporters on Monday, he said he planned to sell his sports and civil rights movement-era memorabilia to raise money for his alleged victims.
"I have every intention of paying back everyone who has a legitimate claim against me," he said.