Don Tollefson's sentencing Wednesday proved no less bizarre than his trial, with a psychologist claiming that the former sportscaster told him that his mother forced him to sleep in her bed throughout his childhood and well into college.
But the proceeding mostly focused on the fallen icon's future and his potential for redemption. After fleecing 200 people in a sports ticket-selling scheme, Tollefson was sentenced by a Bucks County judge to two to four years in state prison and 15 years' probation for felony money laundering, fraud, and theft.
If he behaves, Tollefson, 62, can get early release in 14 months with time served. And his probation can end in just 10 years if he pays everyone back.
The sentence calls for more jail time than the seven months that was included in a plea deal that Tollefson turned down before his trial. State sentencing guidelines had called for a little less than nine months to a little more than two years.
Bucks County Judge Rea Boylan also recommended that Tollefson stay in a facility that helps inmates battling addiction and provides cognitive behavioral therapy, which treats depression and other conditions such as narcissistic personality disorder.
"I saw a lack of understanding, at many points during this proceeding, of the impact of the crime on the community," Boylan told Tollefson.
The judge added that the only time she saw Tollefson visibly emotional during his 11-day trial in January was when one of his victims said he was "the greatest."
Boylan also reduced Tollefson's restitution figure from $340,000 to $164,000 after deciding that money Tollefson owes to the William Penn Ticket Agency should be resolved by a civil court.
Tollefson still must pay back the many sports fans who paid as much as $500 a piece for bogus travel packages to Eagles road games or events such as the Kentucky Derby.
Before the judge handed down her sentence, psychologist Steven Samuel testified that he had interviewed Tollefson in jail and found the former sportscaster to suffer from characteristics of narcissism.
He said the condition, which includes inflated self-worth and a lack of empathy, likely stems from Tollefson's upbringing in San Francisco. Samuel said Tollefson told him that Tollefson's mother forced him to sleep in her bed and gave him daily enemas until he was 16. Thus began a cycle of depression and self-medicated drinking and later prescription painkillers, Samuel said.
"He is not a person who thinks he's God," Samuel said. "He hates himself."
Before learning his fate, Tollefson stood before the judge dressed in a blue suit, looking frail but expressing himself with characteristic hand gestures despite his shackled wrists.
"Every day for me is a day of humiliating reflection for what I did to people who didn't deserve what I did," Tollefson said.
Informed that his victims in the courtroom did not want Tollefson to address them, he spoke to the judge instead. He repeated his claim that he never meant to rip off anyone, that he was a bad businessman who overextended himself to operate his charities for poor inner-city children.
Tollefson said he hopes to raise money from writing about his struggles. And someday, he wants to provide counseling to young people struggling with addiction.
"I feel absolutely enormous remorse that will stay with me for the rest of my life," he said.
Some of Tollefson's victims - and some of his allies - also testified.
They included Darren Meehan, who spoke on behalf of the family of slain Plymouth Township police officer Bradley Fox. Tollefson had hawked travel packages to people in the name of raising money for Fox's family. But he delivered neither tickets nor money to Fox's family.
"Mr. Tollefson's behavior casts a pall on all fund-raising efforts," Meehan said. "Mr. Tollefson's focus has been on image rehabilitation, not personal rehabilitation."
But Leah Yaw, a senior vice president with the Devereux Foundation, said Tollefson spent decades helping the nonprofit raise money for children with developmental disabilities and mental-health problems. Only in the last few years did Tollefson's behavior change, his scheme costing the organization $7,000.
"I never believed that Don's intent was to harm Devereux or that he was stealing from us," Yaw said. "I believe he felt he could pull through."
After the sentencing, some of Tollefson's victims said the sentence wasn't long enough. And one of them, Cindy Moffitt, said she doesn't expect to get her money back.
"That's a joke," she said.
Matt Weintraub, Bucks County's chief of prosecution, said he was satisfied with the sentence.
"He's going to be under our thumb for 15 years," Weintraub said of Tollefson's probation.
"State prison is pretty tough under any circumstance," Weintraub said, "especially for someone who's never been there."