Pitchman Trudeau in Contempt of Court for Failure to Pay $37M Fine31 Jul, 2013 By: Doug McPherson
CHICAGO – A federal judge found TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau in contempt of court last week for failing to pay a $37 million fine stemming from fraudulent infomercials for one of his weight-loss books and ordered him to transfer all of his hidden assets to a court-appointed receiver or risk going to jail.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had asked U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman to put Trudeau in jail immediately and force him to reveal an allegedly complex network of overseas bank accounts and obscure companies set up in Europe and the Caribbean.
Gettleman found Trudeau in contempt but opted not to give him immediate jail time because he was concerned Trudeau’s victims would never get compensated.
“Mr. Trudeau is a puppet master who has a lot of strings out there, and I’m not sure he can pull those strings from jail,” Gettleman said on Chicago-based WMAQ-TV.
Trudeau’s attorney, Kimball Anderson, said Friday his client wants to cooperate but does not own the companies and does not have the money. Trudeau, who reportedly has no formal medical training, has sold millions of books offering cures for ailments from faltering memory to hair loss.
The FTC first sued Trudeau in 1998, charging that he made false and unsubstantiated claims for his products. In 2003, the agency sued Trudeau for deceptively marketing a calcium product as a cancer cure and a product called Biotape as a pain reliever.
Trudeau paid $2 million in 2004 to settle the FTC’s charges and agreed to comply with a court order banning him from infomercials except those that accurately promote books.
Three years later, the judge held Trudeau in civil contempt for misrepresenting some of the facts in an ad for his best-selling weight-loss book, namely that the diet plan was easy and allowed adherents to eat anything they wanted.
After purchasing the book, however, the FTC alleged that consumers discover it “requires severe dieting,” daily injections of a prescription drug not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weight loss and “lifelong dietary restrictions.”