BREAKING: Trudeau Convicted of Criminal Contempt After Jurors Watch Infomercials12 Nov, 2013 By: Thomas Haire, Doug McPherson
CHICAGO – TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau, 50, was convicted of criminal contempt Tuesday, based on accusations of violating the terms of a decade-old consent order in which he promised the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) he would stop making misleading ads, the Chicago Tribune reports. He was ordered held immediately by U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman, and taken into custody.
A federal jury took less than one hour to return with the verdict. Trudeau faces up to life in prison based on the verdict, and he's also facing legal programs for not paying a $37 million civil judgment.
Prosecutors said in court that Trudeau lied about his best-selling book "The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About" in ads describing how he stayed trim on a diet of prime rib, gravy, butter, wine and beer.
"He chose to make his book sound way better than it was to sell more books and make more money," Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Krickbaum said.
Trudeau's attorney, Thomas Kirsch, told jurors his client was simply stating his opinions in his ads – something not barred by the court order. The "cure" referred to in the book was based on a 1950s diet from a British doctor and is protected by free speech, Kirsch said. "If (Trudeau) wanted to write a book that said the moon is made of cheese, he could do it," Kirsch added.
Trudeau claimed in his infomercials that his best-selling weight-loss book had the "easy" cure for obesity, promising consumers they could shed pounds and still eat a diet of pizza and prime rib. But prosecutors shared passages in the book that made the regimen seem not only grueling but also possibly illegal.
In a "Questions and Answers" section of the book, a hypothetical question was posed: "My doctor says this will not work and is not safe. What should I do?"
Trudeau's answer was projected onto a large screen: "Find another doctor."
Another question asked it the hormone touted in the book as a "miracle" fat cutter was legal. "It all depends on what country you live in," Trudeau wrote before going on to explain that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had made the "erroneous statement" that the hormone should never be used for weight loss.
Jurors also watched three half-hour infomercials that aired in 2006 and 2007 in which Trudeau said he'd uncovered a secret and permanent weight-loss plan the government and big food companies wanted kept secret because they wanted to keep people fat.
The key to the program was a "miracle substance" that changed the body's metabolism, allowing people to eat as much as they wanted — from pot roast and mashed potatoes to ice cream sundaes with real whipped cream — and not gain any weight, Trudeau claimed.
"This is the simplest and most effective way to lose weight on Planet Earth, and it's being hidden from the public," he said in one infomercial.
Prosecutors said the "miracle" drug was actually a hormone found in pregnant women.