After Serving 8 Years, Infomercial Pitchman Could Be Jailed Again

FTC says Kevin Trudeau has stashed millions overseas to dodge paying fine
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2022 5:17 AM CST
Updated Dec 4, 2022 3:30 PM CST
After Serving 8 Years, Infomercial Pitchman Could Be Jailed Again
In this Oct. 28, 2013 file photo, television infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau speaks to the media after leaving the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.   (AP Photo/Sun-Times Media, Michael Jarecki)

Infomercial pitchman and convicted fraudster Kevin Trudeau was released from federal prison earlier this year, but the Federal Trade Commission wants to put him back behind bars for allegedly scheming to avoid paying what remains of a $37.6 million fine. In 2014, Trudeau was sentenced to 10 years in prison for defying a court order banning him from making false claims about his book, The Weight Loss Cure They Don't Want You to Know About. He was warned that with the civil penalty still outstanding, he shouldn't expect to find a "pot of gold" waiting when he got out, the Chicago Tribune reports. "He told me he was broke when he had hundreds of millions of dollars going through his hands," US District Judge Robert Gettleman said in 2015. "When he gets out, we’re going to be going right back into this."

Authorities allege that Trudeau has stashed millions of dollars overseas and plans to flee the US, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Prosecutors say new evidence has come from Trudeau's now ex-wife Nataliya Babenko, who was recently granted a marriage annulment. At a hearing Wednesday, FTC attorney Jonathan Cohen said newly discovered emails show that when Trudeau was claiming to be penniless in 2013, he was looking into ways to ship 300 pounds of gold bars and other precious metals to Switzerland, the Tribune reports. He also hired lawyers to research what effect US lawsuits would have on assets held in Switzerland, Cohen said.

More than 800,000 people bought Trudeau's book, which he touted as an "easy" weight-loss program when it actually involved hormone treatments and a 500 calorie per day diet. "Coercive incarceration is the only way to force Trudeau to comply with the court’s orders to redress all the consumers his contumacious conduct injured," Cohen told the court. Gettleman didn't grant the request to put the 59-year-old back behind bars immediately, but he banned him from leaving the Chicago area and ordered him to appear at a Dec. 15 hearing where he could be sent back to custody. Prosecutors said Trudeau had also violated his order to notify the court when he was released from incarceration. Trudeau lawyer Giel Stein said it was a "misunderstanding." Trudeau was released from prison in January to home confinement, which ended in May. (More Kevin Trudeau stories.)

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