Kevin Trudeau avoids jail in contempt case

Kevin Trudeau beats contempt sentenceInfomercial king Kevin Trudeau, who was found in criminal contempt of court in February, won't be going to jail as a federal judge had ordered. An appeals court overturned the sentence, allowing the pitchman to remain free as he continues to battle the government in a civil case alleging he deceived purchasers of one his diet books.

Trudeau, a fixture on late-night TV with his long-form spots promoting his solutions to just about everything, not only won the appeal but got the added bonus of seeing the judge who sentenced him scolded for not following proper legal procedures in handing down the instant conviction on the contempt charge. The appeals court did leave open to the trial judge the option of referring the case for prosecution so that Trudeau could present a defense to the allegations.

"I wrote a book exposing corporate and government corruption," Trudeau told Consumer Ally on Friday. "I talked about it on TV. And now they want to throw me in jail. Everyone can figure it out. I am thrilled that the First Amendment has won. The appeals court said the judge was wrong. This is not the first time he was wrong."

Trudeau was before the judge in the case brought by the Federal Trade Commission after a federal appeals court rejected some of the same judge's findings and ordered a rehearing of some of the issues relating to the $37 million judgment handed down against Trudeau. Trudeau has vowed to continue to battle the case and has told Consumer Ally he will never pay the government should it come to that.

During a pause in the case, Trudeau exhorted his followers to show their support for him by e-mailing the judge. And they did so by the hundreds. The judge was not amused, ordering Trudeau to court and issuing the contempt finding.

Many of the e-mails, according to the appeals court had a simple supportive tone while others could be construed as potentially threatening.

"More people than you know are keeping a close eye on this case, not just the special interests who will benefit from Kevin's silence, but every-day regular people. We know that if he can be persecuted, so can we," one email read. "We are awake to the tyranny."

Trudeau is unlike most in the world of infomercials, selling consumers books on a wide variety of content -- professing expertise in each from money management to weight loss to speed reading.

In 1998, the FTC and Trudeau negotiated a settlement over allegations his advertisements for "Hair Farming," "Mega Memory System," "Addiction Breaking System," "Action Reading," "Eden's Secret," and "Mega Reading" were deceptive. Trudeau and his colleagues paid $1.1 million in a settlement. In 2004, Trudeau was banned from infomercials and settled his case with the FTC by agreeing to pay $500,000 cash and by surrendering a "luxury vehicle" and a home in California.

He was, however, allowed to sell books on TV and that's what he does. The FTC, which polices advertising, cannot prevent him from exercising his First Amendment right to write and promote his writings.

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