Authorities are still investigating the alleged suicide death of embattled Phoenix-based TV pitchman Donald Lapre, who was in federal custody at the time for fraud charges having to do with a company called The Greatest Vitamin in the World.
Lapre, 47, was found dead around 8:30 a.m. Sunday at a holding facility in Florence. A grand jury indicted him back in June on 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and promotional money laundering. He was accused of running and promoting Internet-based businesses that defrauded at least 220,000 people of nearly $52 million when those businesses were actually worthless.
Prosecutors have reportedly said Lapre's vitamins couldn't live up to the claims.
U.S. Marshals Service arrested Lapre on June 23 in Tempe after he failed to show up a day earlier for his arraignment. Reports are that he was camping out inside a Lifetime Fitness locker room.
His trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday.
My Fox Phoenix has reported that Lapre's manner of death is yet to be confirmed.
Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Matt Hershey told My Fox Phoenix that at first glance, Lapre looks like he completed suicide, but that the matter still remains under investigation.
Lapre was being held in a federal jail without bond.
The New York Daily News reported that customers at Lapre's company spent alomost $51.8 million to sell vitamins and recruit others for similar work. However, only a repoted 5,000 people received some $6.4 million in commission, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Lapre was accused of gaining at least $2.2 million between 2004 and 2007, the department told the Daily News.
If Lapre's death is ruled as a suicide, it is allegedly not his first attempt.
Reports are that he tried to complete suicide at least once before, as when Marshals picked up Lapre on June 23 they found him with a deep gash in his groin area, accoridng to the Daily News. Marshals believe then that Lapre had tried to kill himself by slicing his femoral artery.
Despite the allegations, Lapre insisted in a post on his Web site donlapre.com, under the heading Never Stop Dreaming... that he didn't scam anyone.
I have been accused of something I did not do, he wrote. I did not have the perfect company but never once did I allow one thing to be done that would violate any law.