The prosecution in Don Tollefson's fraud trial rested its case Friday afternoon after scores of people testified that he had ripped them off through a sports ticket-selling scheme.
The former Philadelphia sportscaster is already facing hurdles as he mounts his defense, which is expected to start Monday. Tollefson, who is representing himself, told a Bucks County Court judge on Friday that he could not afford the nearly $90 he will need to subpoena 25 of his witnesses.
Those witnesses, who apparently have not agreed to willingly testify, include Howie Roseman, executive vice president of the Eagles.
Judge Rea B. Boylan asked Tollefson if he had a credit card, to which the 62-year-old said, "No." She reminded Tollefson that he failed to qualify for a public defender because of his assets and income.
Once the region's highest-paid sportscaster, Tollefson no longer makes the $5,000 a week he earned at Fox29 in the 2000s. In May, his public defender application showed that he received $2,654 a month in disability payments related to a car accident. The judge resolved the matter by requiring Tollefson to pay the subpoenas' cost, along with other court fees, if he is convicted.
But Tollefson faces another obstacle - being able to fully implement his legal strategy. He wants to call witnesses he has known for decades to testify that he has a long history of helping people.
The judge warned Tollefson on Friday that she did not want the jury to hear every good deed he has done and that there would be a limit to how far back in time he can go.
Throughout the first week of the trial, people from across eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey have testified that Tollefson sold them bogus travel packages to Eagles road games and events such as the 2014 World Cup that were supposed to benefit his charity and others. Instead, he allegedly pocketed $340,000.
Tollefson will get his first chance on Monday to argue he was merely a bad businessman who overextended his charitable efforts. He told reporters on Friday afternoon that he was trying to show that he "overspent to help the kids."
Some of the prosecution's witnesses have already spoken of Tollefson's good acts while discussing his alleged crimes. For instance, on Friday, Eric Cushing, a vice president with Special Olympics Pennsylvania, testified that Tollefson caused the organization to lose $10,000 through his bogus travel packages.
But during cross-examination, Tollefson asked Cushing if he was someone who brought fund-raising "to another level" for charities such as the Special Olympics.
"You were the best of the best, Don," Cushing answered. "You were the man. You were awesome."