Drug addiction, alcoholism and high blood sugar. These are just some of the things fallen sportscaster Don Tollefson has been claiming to escape the fraud charges he's on trial for this week at the Bucks County Courthouse.
Tollefson asked to leave the courthouse based on a blood sugar issue linked to his Type II Diabetes and was taken to Doylestown Hospital where he underwent testing before being released.
The former sportscaster plans on returning to court Friday, he confirmed to NBC10 following his hospital release.
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This is just one of the many bizarre incidents in the trial of the former Philadelphia sportscaster who decided to defend himself when there was no choice: no lawyer had the time to do it for free. Bob Goldman is present as his standby counsel.
He was accused of stealing over $300,000 from his own charity, Winning Ways, which sold sports packages to support underprivileged children. Claims made by his alleged victims and Commonwealth prosecutors state that the packages were nonexistent, ploys to benefit Tollefson own bank account.
"I'm bad with money," said a dejected Tollefson as he took the stand during the third day of his trial on Tuesday. Utilizing a number of financial documents and numbers during his own testimony, he hoped to show the jury that he had no criminal intent.
"I believe that I intended to fulfill all of my obligations with my charity and I believe that it was just a combination of bad business in general, bad money management in particular and sometimes being overly ambitious with our programs," he admitted during one of the trial's recesses.
Some laughed, others looked around to make sure they weren't going crazy. This was the general practice inside Courtroom 2 as Tollefson, clearly flustered by the legal proceedings, constantly received advice from Judge Rea Boylan or bickered with commonwealth prosecutor Matthew Weintraub.
Momentum of the case kept stalling as the jury was asked to leave the room several times so issues could be resolved.
During Weintraub's cross examination, it was revealed that Tollefson — known for a history of drug and alcohol abuse — had spent Winning Ways money on liquor, lawn care, oral surgery, prescription medication and pet cloning services. The former sportscaster said he was under the impression that as the "key employee" of the charity, he was entitled to use nonprofit funds for health care and similar expenses. Moreover, he assured the court that he would reimburse whatever he wasn't entitled to.
Tollefson was released from the hospital Thursday evening. He is expected to bring in more witnesses Friday.
Now 459 days sober, he says he'll live with whatever decision the jury makes.
"The most important thing in my estimation is to stay sober, try to become a better person, and basically in recovery learn to do the right things for yourself and others and that's what I'm trying to do," he said.