An attorney for Don Tollefson has asked a Bucks County judge to go easy on the former sportscaster, arguing that Tollefson should be credited with time served and be assigned a "grueling regimen of community service."
Instead of prison, when she sentences Tollefson on Wednesday for his $340,000 sports-ticket scam, the judge should allow Tollefson to help "society's children" and "permit him to teach hope and respect and promise to those who are hungry and open for this counsel," Robert Goldman wrote in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday.
Goldman cited Tollefson's ongoing recovery from addiction and his history of helping poor children through charity.
"It is wise to consider whether one additional year of Tollefson staring at the mortar that binds cinder-block walls somehow improves the lives of the victims, the public, and those who are better served by a strict and grueling regimen of community service," Goldman wrote.
Tollefson has spent three months in jail since his arrest. That is almost half the time he would have been in state prison under a plea deal he rejected before his trial.
The 62-year-old contended that he committed no crimes and proceeded to represent himself during the sometimes bizarre 11-day proceeding in January. The trial ended in convictions on all counts, which included felony money laundering, fraud, and theft. He had bilked more than 200 people out of at least $500 in the name of charity.
He sold some of the travel packages, he said, to help raise money for the family of Plymouth Township police officer Bradley Fox, who was killed in the line of duty in 2012. But neither the buyers of the packages nor the officer's family got anything.
A sentence of time served and community service also would fall far below state guidelines. Those call for at least nine months in prison. Matt Weintraub, Bucks County's chief of prosecution, said he would ask the judge for several months more than that.
"The time for talking is over," Weintraub wrote in an e-mail. "It is time for him to stop talking, and to start paying. His sentence must balance his need for rehabilitation and treatment with society's interest in punishment for his crimes and payback to his victims."
Tollefson was once the region's highest-paid sportscaster, working for Philadelphia's ABC and Fox affiliates. He lost his $200,000-plus job at Fox in 2008 and then blew through $700,000 from a pension and a settlement related to a car accident.
As the money ran out, Tollefson continued to run his charities and maintain his lifestyle. He also started to hawk his bogus travel packages.
He argued during the trial that he was a bad businessman who overextended himself to help the children served by his charities. He will make the same argument Wednesday before Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Rea Boylan, according to Goldman's memo.
The filing also quoted several unnamed character witnesses who wrote letters on Tollefson's behalf. One said that Tollefson is not a "hard-core criminal."
Addressing the judge, Goldman added: "A task worthy of Solomon is presented to you."