Weight-Loss Infomercial Pitchman Kevin Trudeau Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Criminal Contempt
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 17, 2014|
CHICAGO—Author and television pitchman Kevin Trudeau was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison for criminal contempt for violating a 2004 federal court order that prohibited him from making deceptive television infomercials that misrepresented the contents of his weight loss cure book. Trudeau was convicted by a jury last November after a week-long trial in U.S. District Court.
Trudeau, 51, formerly of Oak Brook, who has been in custody since he was convicted, was also placed on supervised release for five years following his sentence by U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman. During supervised release, Trudeau was ordered to cooperate in the collection of civil judgments and abide by court orders.
“Since the age of 25, [Trudeau] has attempted to cheat others for his own personal gain,” Judge Guzman said, adding he has a lengthy “history of refusal to follow court orders to tell the public the truth.”
Trudeau “is an unrepentant, untiring, and uncontrollable huckster who has defrauded the unsuspecting for 30 years. He is the type of person the court should expect to defraud his fellow inmates while in custody and to continue to commit fraud into old age. He appears capable of nothing else,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing memo.
Criminal contempt has no statutory maximum sentence. The judge found that Trudeau faced an advisory federal sentencing guidelines range of 235 to 293 months in prison and said that such a sentence would be reasonable but cited prosecutors’ request for a sentence of at least 10 years in imposing the sentence.
During the sentencing hearing, a man who twice shouted from the gallery was removed by court security officers. The U.S. Marshals Service issued a petty offense citation to Ed Foreman, 80, of Dallas, for allegedly causing a disturbance. He was given a June 9 court date unless he pays a fine and court costs totaling $175 before that date.
According to the evidence at trial, Trudeau appeared in three television infomercials between December 2006 and July 2007 in which he willfully misrepresented the contents of his book The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About. In April 2010, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman issued an order to show cause why Trudeau should not be held in criminal contempt of a September 2, 2004 settlement in which Trudeau agreed not to directly or indirectly produce and broadcast any deceptive infomercials that misrepresented the contents of any book, including the weight loss cure book (Federal Trade Commission v. Trudeau, No. 03 C 3904).
Prosecutors cited a litany of blatant lies and misrepresentations made by Trudeau in his infomercials. These included his claims that his book was not a “diet,” when in fact it required at least three weeks of eating 500 calories or less a day, and that a hormone found only in pregnant women that was required to be injected daily could be obtained “anywhere,” when in fact it could be obtained in the United States only through a doctor’s prescription. He also claimed that after finishing the diet, consumers could eat anything they wanted without regaining weight, when in fact the diet required severe food deprivation that lasts for life.
The sentence was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Tony Gómez, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago; and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys April Perry and Marc Krickbaum.