Chicago television pitchman Kevin Trudeau will soon have plenty of free time to brainstorm his next round of television advertisements.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Trudeau, 50, was taken into custody Tuesday after he was convicted of criminal contempt for making several misleading claims in infomercials about a diet book that he published. At the order of U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman, Trudeau was arrested immediately after the jury’s verdict was announced. It took the federal jury less than an hour to deliberate. The judge also cited prosecutors’ belief that Trudeau has several million dollars hidden in overseas accounts as another reason for his immediate arrest.
The final arguments in the case were delivered on Tuesday. Prosecutors told the jury that the TV pitchman purposely lied to boost sales of his book in infomercials that were shown heavily on late-night television, reports WLS. The main issue rested on the exaggerated claims stated in the infomercials, including that people who followed the diet in the book would ultimately be able to eat whatever they pleased without weight gain.
"The defendant lied about what was in his book, he deceived people ... for profit," prosecutor Marc Krickbaum said. "He made the book sound way better than it actually was. If he told the truth, that book wasn't going to sell nearly as well than if he lied."
The books themselves weren’t cited as problems in the trial, only the claims Trudeau made in the infomercials about them. Defense lawyer Thomas Kirsch argued that prosecutors did not adequately prove that Trudeau was guilty of misleading viewers with his claims. He also added that prosecutors failed to prove that any misstatements in the infomercial were intentional.
In 2004, a judge issued an order barring Trudeau from making any false claims about his best-selling book, "The Weight Loss Cure They Don't Want You to Know About." Now he faces years in prison for a conviction of violating that order. Trudeau has already been ordered to pay a $37 million judgment in a civil case related to the book.