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TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau gets 10-year sentence

TV Pitchman Kevin Trudeau Receives 10-Year Jail Sentence

CHICAGO (AP) - Best-selling author Kevin Trudeau, whose name became synonymous with late-night TV pitches, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for bilking consumers through ubiquitous infomercials for his book, "The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About."

As he imposed the sentence prosecutors had requested, U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman portrayed the 50-year-old Trudeau as a habitual fraudster going back to his early adulthood. So brazen was Trudeau, the judge said, he once even used his own mother's Social Security number in a scheme.

"Since his 20s, he has steadfastly attempted to cheat others for his own gain," Guzman said, adding that Trudeau is "deceitful to the very core."

Trudeau, whose trademark dyed black hair turned partially gray as he awaited sentencing in jail, showed little emotion as the stiff sentence was handed down at the hearing in Chicago.

Addressing the judge earlier in a 10-minute statement, Trudeau apologized and said he's become a changed man. He said he's meditated, prayed and read self-help books while locked up at Chicago's Metropolitan Correctional Center.

"I have truly had a significant reawakening," said Trudeau, who was dressed in orange jail clothes. "If I ever do an infomercial again ... I promise: No embellishments, no puffery, no lies."

While Trudeau appeared calm throughout the hearing, one of his supporters interrupted the judge at one point and began to speak. After cutting the judge short a second time, the man dropped to the floor and refused to leave. U.S. marshals carried him out of the courtroom.

Jurors convicted Trudeau of criminal contempt in November for defying a 2004 court order barring him from running false ads about the weight-loss book. Despite the order, he aired the infomercials at least 32,000 times, according to prosecutors.

He sold more than 850,000 copies of the weight-loss book, generating $39 million in revenue, prosecutors say. And the judge agreed with prosecutors that the amount of loss stemming from Trudeau's deception was more than $37 million - nearly the amount in revenue.

But in remarks Monday asking for a sentence of less than two years for his client, defense attorney Tom Kirsch said the harm Trudeau caused was minor compared to fraud in which some people are cheated out of their life savings.

"A 10-year sentence might be appropriate for a defendant who destroyed lives," Kirsch said. "(But) Trudeau - if he swindled anyone - swindled them out of $30 (the price of the book)."

Another defense attorney, Carolyn Gurland, added that Trudeau's legal troubles had already cost him his businesses and his home, and nearly all his other worldly possessions.

"He has a suitcase containing his personal artifacts. That's what he has left," she said.

But Guzman showed little sympathy, appearing angry as he said that Trudeau had thumbed his nose at the justice system by violating multiple court orders since the 1990s.

"He has treated federal court orders as if they were mere suggestions ... or impediments to be side-stepped, out-maneuvered or just ignored," the judge said.

Trudeau's weight-loss book describes a grueling, 500-calorie-a-day diet, as well as hormone treatments. The deception, Guzman explained, came in Trudeau's infomercials that misrepresented the contents of the book as laying out "a simple, no hunger ... diet-free method of losing weight," which enticed more people to buy the book.

Trudeau became rich selling millions of books with titles such as "Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About" and "Debt Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About," touting them in commercials with a news-interview formats.

As legal scrutiny intensified over the years, Trudeau claimed the U.S. government was out to get him, and he accused agencies and other vested interests of conspiring to suppress low-cost, common remedies to diseases, including cancer.

His weight-loss book, which once topped best-seller lists, was the focus of the criminal conviction for which he was sentenced. It also was the subject of related civil case brought by the Federal Trade Commission, in which Trudeau was ordered to pay a $37 million judgment.

In that civil case, Trudeau said he couldn't pay the judgment because he's broke. But FTC lawyers balked at that claim, accusing him of hiding money in shell companies. Trudeau, they noted, has spent lavishly in recent years, including $359 on two haircuts.

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dlerch March 18 2014 at 7:05 AM

I'm not saying this guy shouldn't go to jail, but why isn't Jon Corzine in prison, or any of the bankers who put this country/the world on the brink of financial destruction in prison? Like his attorney said, "if he defrauded anyone it was for at most $30"...the aforementioned "banksters" destroyed lives...it just goes to show your allowed to steal, you just to have to make sure you're politically connected before you do it...

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Jim March 18 2014 at 8:21 AM

The only reaso he changed, is that he got caught. Piece of S7%$.

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cubamex2003 March 18 2014 at 8:24 AM

How much time should the fools that bought his lies get ?

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1 reply
michaelnel4449 cubamex2003 March 18 2014 at 8:32 AM

Right now it's not against the law to be stupid or gullible.. just ask any TV evangelist.

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susisee11 March 18 2014 at 8:25 AM

I bought his book about debt cures.....nothing worked.
You can tell by listening to him he's a fast talker.
I just watched a commercial that he made for Free Money They Don't Want You to Know About.But, I say the govt does target him.They need to go after all those other fake claims that commercials put out:.Look 25 years younger..lose weight with one pill etc.If they worked we would be having all women looking 25 years younger and weighing 110 lbs.! Americans spend billions on weight reducing pills and diet foods,yet we are the fattest people on the planet. Only with face lifts(sometimes) and good genes you can look younger and eating less high caloric foods and exercise can you lose weight.
Also go after crooked Brokers and Investment companies that scam people out of life savings!

Flag Reply +6 rate up
fjviola March 18 2014 at 8:29 AM

This guy is small potatoes when compared to the hundreds of millions John Corzine ripped off from the investors in MF Global - but Corzine is a former princeling of theDemocrat party and he will never see a day in jail. Heck, they may even run him for office again

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Chris March 17 2014 at 11:53 PM

It's cynical how this guy cheats the people just as the Government cheats also and the government justice system wants him to divulge his 37 million assets so they can take it from him. So, really, ''the POT calling the Kettle black here.... This guy may be a fraud, but he doesn't steal peoples money, he deceives 30 dollars... really !! Just 30 dollars and the government takes how much from EVERYONE and spends and takes with no record to show how every dollar of taxpayer money is spent on programs that benefit their lobbyist, Halliburton, Banks, Energy and big Pharmaceuticals... !!! Really... I would smirk too and gladly serve 10 years and spend the money when I got out..... But, this guy is bad, it's just how the government operates under what they call ''Common Good''.. don't be serious..

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1 reply
teampdf Chris March 18 2014 at 12:15 AM

Or you can be like Charleie Rangel - Tim Giethner and other tax cheats in the government or the old money rich and powerful who defraud or price gouge people all the time and get away with it ... just depends who you are - who you know - what you know and what side of the fence you're on. If someone is dumb enough to buy into this guys crap ... so be it. There are other books out there jusst as bad or worse ... but the authors are smart enough not to do an infomercial. Write the book - sell the book - keep your mouth shut - no problem.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
hartbrkr8285 March 18 2014 at 8:39 AM

Another TV Huckster going to jail, imagine that. although you can't put all the blame on them, the people who buy into their story are guilty of not doing their due diligence before sending their hard earned money to them. Hope he doesn't got the way of Don Lapre, another TV Infomercial King who hung himself when he too was sent to prison for his lack of morals and integrity. Always remember if it sounds to good to be true, chances are it is. Caveate Emptor. Buyer Beware.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
aristars March 18 2014 at 8:42 AM

This is not in defense of Kevin, it's about blatant double standards in the government's praxtice. it's about individual responsbilities! Kevin has not been the only one who stretched the truth to death to sell a product! some big comanies do it, a lot of sellers on ebay do it. they sell products about how to make money, having a business for a few dollars to get thousands of dollars, to become supr rich by just paying ,most of the cases, less than $10! Government also does it, look what promises given about the HCA? the government told people what they wanted to hear to pass that bill! come on! 10 years? how this can do any good for the country? borrow more money from China to keep Kevin behind bars? the government seized his money to keep it? why not give it back to those who paid it? why blame everybody else for being gullible? I was guillible , and bought some of this stuff, then I learned my lesson, and move on, just be more careful not to fall into any of those traps any more!! look at the tons of money paid by you,the consumers, for commericails! why a company tries very hard to convince people about its products by paying a lot of money to do so? a real good product sells itself!!!

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1 reply
thescot aristars March 18 2014 at 9:25 AM

How about the stretching of truth to sell the hell care bill, no there was truly scamming.

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RETIRED LADY!! March 18 2014 at 8:48 AM

He probably read a "What 'They' Don't Want You to Know" self-help book, and realized he was the author. Obviously, he learned nothing, was not helped, and 'they' don't care what he 'knows'. For those questioning why anyone would buy his books (even some who realize it's a scam), there's a simple answer: desperation. Especially for those in pain, even a slim hope of relief is worth any price.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
golstar March 17 2014 at 11:51 PM

PUT THE CREDIT CARD COMPANIES AND BANKS AWAY TOO

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