Don Tollefson Biography
Don Tollefson is an American television broadcast journalist, best known for his work as a sportscaster for the Philadelphia local ABC affiliate WPVI-TV from 1975-1990. He also worked for Philadelphia’s local FOX affiliate, WTXF-TV. He worked briefly as a sideline reporter for FOX’s nationally broadcast show, NFL on FOX and hosted a radio show on ESPN Radio 950 AM.
Don Tollefson Age
Don Tollefson was born on 12 September 1952 in San Francisco, California, United States. Don Tollefson is 66 years old as of 2018.
Don Tollefson Net worth
Don Tollefson earns his income from his businesses and other related organizations. He also earns his income from his journalism work. He has an estimated net worth $ 1 million dollars.
Don Tollefson Education
Don Tollefson attended the Menlo School where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. She later graduated from Stanford University where he was the editor of the student newspaper.
Don Tollefson Wife
Don Tollefson married Monica Vasquez, in 1992. They were married only a short time after his return to Philadelphia, he later married his second wife, Marilyn (née Torres). She gave birth to their first born child, Gabriella Laura on December 16, 2008. On February 2019 is he was engaged to Heidi Schaffer Fetter, a native of Allentown, PA. He once dated NBC Today Show reporter Jenna Wolfe.
Don Tollefson Journalist
Don Tollefson began his journalism career when he was hired by the WPVI-TV ABC 6 Philadelphia. He was hired by the Associated Press as a young correspondent covering the Patty Hearst kidnapping and trial. In the fall of 1974, he was hired (along with Jim Lampley) as a football sideline reporter for ABC Sports.
From there he was hired by ABC’s Philadelphia local affiliate where he spent the bulk of his broadcasting career. He was also hired as a general correspondent for WPVI-TV in Philadelphia in 1975. He was named Sports Director in 1976. During his tenure at ABC 6, Tollefson covered some of Philadelphia sports history’s most exciting moments. Notable among them:
- The Phillies’ 1980 World Series Championship and 1983 World Series appearance, as well as their 1976, 1977, and 1978 Eastern Division Champion seasons.
- The Eagles’ 1980 NFC Championship and their 1988 NFC East Division Championship
- The Flyers’ 1975 Stanley Cup Championship, as well as their ’76-’77, ’79-’80, ’84-’85, and ’86-’87 Conference Championships.
- The 76ers’ 1983 NBA Championship, as well as their 1977, 1980, and 1982 Conference Titles.
- In 1990, he announced that he was leaving ABC to start a non-profit organization designed to work with youths to avoid drug abuse, truancy, and criminal behavior.
Don Tollefson has also anchored on the WTXF Fox 29 Philadelphia. In 1995, he returned to television broadcasting as a general assignment reporter for FOX’s Philadelphia local affiliate, WTXF Fox 29. In addition to general reporting, Tollefson covered sports news and events as well as co-hosted Fox Philadelphia’s morning show Good Day Philadelphia from 1996-1998. He was fired from WTXF in 2008.
Don Tollefson Alcohol Addiction
In 2013, Don Tollefson confirmed to several news outlets that he was battling a decades-long alcohol abuse problem and an addiction to prescription pain killers after a 2008 automobile accident. In October 2013, he checked himself into an inpatient rehab facility.
He had begun drinking at the age of 16 and says he “got drunk every night” from then until age 61. He admitted to drinking before going on the air and was once pulled off the air by a manager because he was visibly intoxicated. On January 2015, he told a Philadelphia Daily News reported that he had been clean for 468 days.
Don Tollefson Fraud Trial
On October 2013, allegations began to surface that Tollefson had been defrauding individuals and charities for payment for trips to large sporting events. He was accused of selling packages including tickets, travel, and accommodations to events like the Super Bowl and then never delivering the packages or delivering incompletely. In most cases, these packages were sold under the guise of benefiting various charities for which Tollefson purported to be an advocate. Those charities did not receive the funds Tollefson was paid for the packages he never delivered.
Don Tollefson Arrest
On February 2014, he was arrested and arraigned in Bucks County District Court. He was charged with unlawful activity, theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, and violations of the Pennsylvania charitable organizations statute. Some of the details of the charges were as follows: On October 8, 2013, he sold 18 Eagles game trip packages for $500 at a memorial run for Plymouth Township Police officer Brad Fox, who had been killed in the line of duty.
He claimed that the money would be split between his own charities and the Brad Fox Foundation. The Fox Foundation never received any money Tollefson met several Lehigh Valley business owners following a charity event and sold them a trip package to the 2013 Super Bowl including flights, hotels and game tickets. Flight arrangements never were made and the package purchasers had to pay for flights on top of the monies paid to Tollefson. In total, he was accused of stealing over $340,000 from more than 100 individual people
Don Tollefson Change of Plea/New Found Faith
On December 15, 2014, Don Tollefson was scheduled to be sentenced following his originally entered plea of guilty. However, Tollefson requested to withdraw his guilty plea, change to not guilty and be permitted to represent himself at his trial. He claimed to have been praying with pastors, ministers and a rabbi and said that “I believe I am innocent of the charges…and I have learned that through prayer.” On December 22, 2014, he held a press conference to announce that he no longer wished to represent himself and had been applying to be represented by a public defender. Those applications were denied.
Don Tollefson Trial
His trial began on January 5, 2015, against his claims of innocence of being a “bad businessman.” He was also claimed that none of the money he received was spent on himself or his family. On January 21, 2015, he was found guilty on all counts. The jury deliberated for 10 hours over the course of two days. Prosecutors afterward said that they would be seeking “lengthy” prison time for Tollefson at sentencing. He was ultimately sentenced to two to four years in state prison. Tollefson must also serve 15 years of probation. He was released in late 2017 after serving 14 months of his sentence.
Don Tollefson Out of jail
Don “Tollie” Tollefson feels great. The former star sportscaster who became a legend in the Philadelphia region is only months out of prison but working hard to maintain his sobriety and help others in need. The parolee is living in a second-floor apartment, surviving off Social Security, and always looking forward to spending time with his 8-year-old daughter. But the 65-year-old claims to be doing better than ever before thanks to his clean lifestyle and faith.
His current situation is a stark contrast from his career pinnacle in the 1980s to 2000s when he graced viewers of 6abc and Fox 29 nightly to update them on the latest sports headlines. However, for Tollefson, his 14-month stint in Bucks County and then state prison for running a scheme that took $340,000 over the course of several years from his fans and charitable causes turned things around for him. “It’s hard for people to understand when I say my life was saved by prison, rehab, and God,” he told LevittownNow.com a recent sunny afternoon just outside the Bucks County Justice Center in Doylestown.
“I had been drinking since 16,” he said. “I don’t think there was a day I didn’t.” “One year you’re at the Super Bowl, and the next you’re listening to it from prison.” Due to the death of his mother and grandmother just weeks apart when he was a teenager and other social stresses, Tollefson began hitting the bottle and continued it during his career as a broadcaster. After a 2008 car crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, he also started abusing pain medication. “All my friends had a two-parent family and I didn’t,” recalling his time growing up in San Francisco.
The hard-working Stanford University-educated reporter scooped the competition and made a name for himself in his 20s. He started covering sports and was hired up by 6abc in Philadelphia. He quickly became a regional celebrity and earned the trust of viewers. To an extent that all fell apart after he was sent to prison, but not entirely. Tollefson said people who once viewed him on TV stop him on the street or at the grocery store to check on him or call him to get his help getting someone into treatment.
It happened several times during his interview with this news organization. He said his time in county prison and state correctional facilities at Graterford in Montgomery County and Pine Grove in Indiana County changed his outlook on life. “I went to prison to pay a price and it saved my life,” Tollefson said. He spent time with fellow inmates, talked with them, heard their struggles, and even gained a new perspective from meeting young men who were imprisoned along with their fathers and grandfathers.
“I was able to help tutor them to get GEDs,” he said. “These were teenagers with incredible anger and emotions. There were fights right in the classroom” The self-described “street smart” Tollefson said he fared well in custody and appreciates the interactions he had with inmates and corrections officers, adding he spent some time in isolation because there were worries for his safety if he was in the general population. He acknowledged what led him to prison was wrong and he apologized.
He added that although substance abuse played a role, he was ultimately responsible. At his 2014 perp walk in Warminster, a just-arrested he looked on gaunt and was lacking color. Today, he looks better and is busy growing his ministry, talking with people suffering from addiction, and offering up donated books to those who need it. In his small apartment, a recent donation has filled it with books that he will hand out to homeless and those fighting addiction.
“It’s interesting what a book can do for someone,” he said. Out of prison, Tollefson said he is thankful his parole agent allows him to speak locally and help in the recovery community. Down the road, the former sportscaster has interest in working in recovery and possibly even opening a recovery facility, Tollefson said. , “I’m on a journey to help people.” He will be part of the Together We Can Convention that will be held at the Newtown Athletic Club on Pheasant Run from noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday. The event will feature numerous guest speakers, agencies that can help those dealing with addiction, nonprofits, and other resources.