A Butler County man faces charges in three counties for bilking thousands of dollars from multiple victims, including a former NFL player who grew up in Penn Hills.
Authorities said Robert Osselborn—who lists addresses in Mars, Butler and New Castle, Lawrence County—posed as a representative of a television show about hunting to entice former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Tom Tumulty of Adams Township to give him money. In exchange, Osselborn promised Tumulty a spot in a group trip to Jackson Hole, WY and said the trip could be recorded and aired on the show, according to investigators..
“He was very legitimate and very detailed about the hunting story,” Tumulty said Tuesday.
That incident is one of several in which Osselborn now faces charges in communities around the region, including Pine and Marshall townships.
Tumulty said a mutual friend introduced him to Osselborn two years ago while they were dining at the Walnut Grove restaurant in Wexford. From the start, Osselborn represented himself as a professional hunter with a television show, Tumulty said.
Tumulty said he and Osselborn weren't friends but bumped into each other occasionally.
“He knew a lot of people in that area,” Tumulty said.
About six months ago, Tumulty said Osselborn asked him to consider being a part of a hunting show featuring episodes from different locales. Osselborn said his producer wanted a former NFL player on his team for the show, according to a criminal complaint filed by Adams Township police.
Tumulty, an avid outdoorsman, said he agreed to make five show appearances a year, including making a trip to Jackson Hole with his father. Tumulty added hunting in Wyoming long has been a dream he's shared with his father.
“I told him that if my dad could go, perhaps I’d be interested,” Tumulty said.
After Osselborn showed him hunting photos, footage and financial documents, Tumulty said he agreed to pay for the trip to Wyoming with the understanding he would be reimbursed later for those expenses. If footage from the hunt aired, Tumulty was to receive an additional $10,000, the complaint said.
Tumulty, a University of Pittsburgh graduate who played three seasons with the Bengals from 1996 to 1999, gave Osselborn $4,000 to start the process of arranging the trip to Jackson Hole, according to court documents.
In September, Tumulty wrote Osselborn a $7,500 check for the balance, according to court documents. All together, he paid Osselborn a total of $11,500.
The trip never materialized.
When Tumulty accompanied Osselborn to the Zelienople airport for the flight west in September, Tumulty said the plane never arrived and Osselborn told him the flight had been delayed.
The following day, the plane again failed to show, he said. This time, the complaint said Tumulty never received a call back from Osselborn.
On Sept. 21, Tumulty said he called the guide associated with West Bank Outfitters, the company through which the trip supposedly was booked. He said he learned an itinerary had never been planned for his trip with his father.
“He called me back about five hours later and told me he had no idea what I was talking about,” Tumulty said.
Tumulty said he held off on going to police in the hopes of straightening things out with Osselborn himself.
“After that point I wanted to talk to him and give him the benefit of the doubt," Tumulty said.
Unable to obtain a satisfactory explanation from Osselborn, Tumulty said he contacted police. Adams officers obtained a warrant for Osselborn's arrest in late December.
Osselborn is charged with two counts of theft, two counts of receiving stolen property and one count of deceptive business practices in that case.
Tumulty, currently a partner at Frankenstein Builders Supply in Zelienople, said he at first felt angry and betrayed. He said he does not think it's likely he'll be reimbursed for the money he provided.
“It was hard on our family,” he said. "You work that hard for money, and that was a significant amount.”
Even more difficult was informing his father that their dream hunt would not take place, he said.
"You’re just so excited, and he didn’t just betray you. He betrayed your dad, who is wanting to do this his whole life,” Tumulty said.
Osselborn was arraigned Monday before District Justice Wayne Seibel in Evans City. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday Jan. 15. He currently is held in the Allegheny County Jail.
Additional Charges Across the Region
Osselborn also faces charges stemming from financial encounters in Pine and Marshall townships and New Castle. He also is wanted in Nevada for a probation violation, a police report shows.
In the Pine incident, a Wexford business paid Osselborn $3,000 in May for two copier/fax machines that were not delivered to the owner's satisfaction, according to a criminal complaint filed by Northern Regional Police Department.
Osselborn delivered one machine—a Kyocera all-in-one printer—that appeared to have been used previously and did not operate properly, the police report said. He never delivered the second and did not respond to complaints from the business, the report states.
He also is charged with failing to deliver $1,800 worth of Pittsburgh Steelers tickets to an employee of a hair and nail salon in Marshall. The employee of that business told police she learned Osselborn had accepted money for Steelers tickets and kept the money without producing the tickets, according to a police report.
Osselborn also faces charges for stealing more than $60,000 from a man in New Castle, according to court documents. No additional information was immediately available from police about that incident.