Despite his promise never to lie in an infomercial again, a federal court judge sentenced Kevin Trudeau to 10 years in prison for criminal contempt after violating a consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission.
A federal jury found Trudeau guilty late last year of violating the 2004 decree in which he promised not to directly or indirectly produce and broadcast any deceptive infomercials that misrepresented the contents of any book. Trudeau then launched a new round of infomercials in 2006 to support a diet book, The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About.
According to the FTC, Trudeau claimed he had discovered a secret and permanent weight loss plan that was suppressed by food companies and the government in an effort to keep people fat. In three half-hour infomercials, Trudeau set forth his plan, which he said did not require any exercise or dieting and allowed users to eat as much of whatever food they wanted.
But the government said Trudeau’s program was really a grueling regimen, limited to 500 calories per day and the use of prescription hormones. Jurors deliberated for less than one hour before finding the 50-year-old Trudeau guilty.
Seeking a two-year sentence, Trudeau told the sentencing judge that he “had a significant reawakening” due to his time spent in prayer and meditation while locked up since November. “If I ever write a book again, if I ever do another infomercial again, I promise no embellishment, no puffery, and absolutely no lies,” he told the court.
U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Guzman was unmoved by Trudeau’s apologies and promises and imposed a decade of prison time. Calling Trudeau “deceitful to the very core,” Judge Guzman said “he has steadfastly attempted to cheat others for his own gain” for years, adding that Trudeau has treated federal court orders “as if they were mere suggestions…or at most impediments to be sidestepped, outmaneuvered or just ignored.”
Why it matters: Trudeau’s legal woes will not end soon. In addition to his attorney telling CNN that Trudeau plans to appeal the sentence, he faces an ongoing civil action where the FTC is seeking recovery of a $37.6 million fine, which was levied in 2009.