Published on July 30th, 2013 | by Daniel R. Perlman0
TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau found in contempt of court
Federal judge orders TV pitchman to turn over all of his hidden assets
A federal judge found TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau in contempt of court Friday for failing to pay a multimillion-dollar fine stemming from fraudulent infomercials and ordered him to transfer all of his hidden assets to a court-appointed receiver or risk going to jail.
The Federal Trade Commission had asked U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman to lock up Trudeau immediately and force him to reveal an allegedly complex network of overseas bank accounts and obscure companies set up in far-flung havens from Europe to the Caribbean.
In ruling from the bench, Gettleman likened the smooth-talking Trudeau to a puppet master holding strings that needed to be pulled in order to find the money.
“And I’m not sure he can pull those strings from a jailhouse cell,” the judge said.
Gettleman ordered Trudeau to cooperate in turning over his assets and warned that he would be allowed only “necessary living expenses.” He also barred travel without the permission of the court.
The dapper salesman had continued to lead a lavish lifestyle in the three years since Gettleman levied the $37.6 million fine, jetting to Zurich and spending thousands on cigars, clothes and furniture for his mansions, according to the FTC.
Gettleman also had harsh words for what he called Trudeau’s “sham” accounting of his wealth. Citing FTC records, the judge noted that since 2010, Trudeau had personally spent at least $12 million, with nearly half going to an asset-hiding guru who directed Trudeau to transfer ownership in companies to his wife and move entities overseas to avoid the reach of government regulators.
“I don’t think that was money well-spent, Mr. Trudeau,” Gettleman said. “If you had paid that money toward the judgment, you might not be sitting here today.”
Seated at the defense table in a dark blue suit, Trudeau nodded when the judge informed him he was not going to jail. He left the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse without comment. His attorney, Kimball Anderson, said Trudeau intended to cooperate fully with the judge’s order.
A charismatic motivational speaker, Trudeau, 50, grew a business from a base in suburban Chicago touting products such as pain-relief adhesive tape and a cancer cure involving coral calcium. His once-ubiquitous infomercials were seen by millions of late-night television viewers, advertising solutions for everything from hair loss to excessive levels of debt.
In 2004 the FTC imposed a consent decree banning Trudeau from misrepresenting the content of his hit book “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.” Regulators say he violated the order a few years later with infomercials claiming the book was filled with “easy” techniques when it actually called for prescription hormone injections, a month of colon hydrotherapy and a 500-calorie-per-day diet regimen.
That alleged violation led to a separate criminal contempt charge that is scheduled for a jury trial next month and could land Trudeau in prison for years.
Throughout the case, Trudeau has consistently claimed he has few assets and can’t pay the massive fine levied by Gettleman. On his radio show and webcasts, he insisted the government is trying to stop him from telling the public the secrets of the rich and powerful. Earlier this year, he took the witness stand but invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on every question about his assets.
“It’s just one lie after the other after the other,” Gettleman said. “… It’s time for this to end.”
Source: chicagotribune.com “TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau found in contempt of court,” July 30, 2013.