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Former Philadelphia sportscaster on trial for fraud

The prosecution rested its case against former Philadelphia sportscaster on Jan. 9. He is accused of stealing $340,000 in donations that were intended to go to a charity he had created and other groups. His alleged fraud arose from his selling fake travel packages for people to attend Eagles' games in order to benefit his charity.

He was previously found to be ineligible for a public defender due to his income. He has since been representing himself at trial. His defensive strategy relies on him countering the prosecution's accusations by arguing that he was simply bad at business and never had any intent to defraud.

He intended to call 25 witnesses to testify about his good works in the past. While cross-examining one of the prosecution's witnesses who testified against him, he managed to elicit an agreement from the witness that his prior efforts had raised the fund-raising abilities of the man's organization to a new level.

When a felony fraud case proceeds to trial, the prosecution is required to prove each individual element of the offense to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt before a guilty verdict can be secured. Typically, fraud includes an intent element, and if the prosecutor is unable to prove that the defendant acted with the intent to defraud, that might possibly be enough for the defendant to be found not guilty.

It is generally a good idea for people who are accused of a felony offense to seek out the help of a criminal defense attorney. Major fraud and theft cases can result in significant prison time in the event the jury returns a guilty verdict. An attorney may be better equipped to handle the litigation and procedural aspects of a trial.

Source: Philly.com, "Prosecution rests Friday in Tollefson fraud case," Ben Finley, Jan. 10, 2015

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