LOS ANGELES – California's attorney general called for a clean-up of Hollywood after a top fund-raiser pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal mail- and wire-fraud charges relating to the funneling of more than $1 million in donations to celebrities and phony charities.
Tonken was scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 23. He faces prison, fines and restitution to donors who gave money for tributes and fund-raisers that never took place.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer (search) sued Tonken in March for allegedly defrauding several charities of $1.5 million, including the Betty Ford Center and City of Hope.
According to the federal indictment, Tonken solicited donations for phony events, then diverted the money to bank accounts with names falsely suggesting they were charitable organizations.
Tonken was also questioned by federal officials probing former President Clinton's pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich (search).
Rich's wife Denise Rich and the former president have denied any connection between campaign donations and Rich's pardon. The Federal Elections Commission cleared Rich of charges that her contributions to Sen. Clinton's 2000 campaign were in exchange for the pardon.
Federal prosecutors were also investigating Tonken's production of a Hollywood tribute to then-President Clinton in August 2000 that served as a Senate campaign fund-raiser for his wife. Tonken had stayed at the Clinton White House and calls Sen. Clinton a good friend.
Lockyer, the California attorney general, in a Los Angeles Times interview published Tuesday called for laws that would regulate celebrity appearance fees and require disclosure of appearance payments.
Tonken's lawyer agreed with Lockyer to an extent.
"I think [Tonken] is emblematic or symbolic of a system of fund-raising, both charitable and political, that's broken," attorney Alan Rubin said. "I mean, there are things obviously going [on]. The fund-raising system is broken. The political fund-raising system is broken."
Sources said Tonken was cooperating with authorities.
Investigators could expose many well known celebrities with embarrassing revelations and the possibility some had broken laws.
Financial records obtained by the Times showed that some stars may have received hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, watches, free trips and cash for appearances at charity events.
One promoter told Fox News that the stars' gifts came out of money that should have been going to charity.
Among those who allegedly benefited was "Friends" star David Schwimmer (search), who supposedly got two Rolex watches worth more than $26,000 for appearing at a cancer-charity event. His spokesman was reportedly not commenting.
Camryn Manheim (search) of television's "The Practice" reportedly was rewarded with a $24,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycle and an around-the-world trip for her brother for serving as mistress of ceremonies for another fund-raiser. A friend of Manheim's told the Los Angeles Times that the actress thought the sponsors were giving her gifts for her appearance.
Suzanne Somers (search) and her husband reportedly received a business-class trip to London worth $20,000 after appearing at a cancer benefit.
The documents also showed that comedian Bill Cosby (search) agreed to be honored by a charity earlier this year for a $75,000 fee plus $10,000 in expenses. The event never happened and he was not paid.
Cosby's lawyer told Fox News that the comedian always asks for an "appearance fee" before attending a charity event, and then returns the money to the charity. His lawyers refused to turn over the names of charities Cosby had refunded.
Singer and actress Cher (search) allegedly will only fly to some events on a private jet. Tonken reportedly agreed to foot her roughly $60,000 airplane fee and also allegedly sent her and a friend to Europe. Her lawyers had not commented on the allegation.
Rod Stewart's manager received from Tonken $70,000 in travel expenses, including an upgrade on a $30,000 cruise, after the manager threatened to pull Stewart from a benefit at the singer's estate, the papers indicated. Stewart's manager would not comment.
Prosecutors would not name any celebrities involved, but stated that the investigation was ongoing.
Fox News' Eric Shawn and Kendall Hagan contributed to this report.