March 19, 2014
Diet book author and pitchman gets 10 years in prison
by Julia Fleischaker
Kevin Trudeau, TV pitchman, dedicated and persistent con man, and author of The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About, Natural Cures ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About, and Debt Cures ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on fraud and contempt charges, despite his claims that, alternately, the government is out to get him, and that he’s had a “significant reawakening.”
Trudeau’s own website calls him “one of the most read authors of all time,” as well as “a fearless whistleblower” (for exposing everything, including natural health cures, that “they” don’t want you to know). It seems the government disagrees, at least with the whistleblower bit. All the way back in 2007, Trudeau was found in contempt of court for violating a permanent 2004 injuction. (He got the injunction for hawking a product he claimed could cure cancer.) The 2004 injunction actually allowed him to keep using infomercials to sell his books, as long he not “misrepresent the content of the books.” According to the FTC‘s website, “Judge Robert W. Gettelman ruled that Trudeau ‘…has misrepresented the contents of his book by stating in his infomercials that his diet protocol was ‘easy’ and that it allowed dieters to ‘eat whatever they want,’ and he has misled thousands of consumers.”
Consumerist noted when it happened that “his ‘easy to follow’ diet required injections, colonics, bizarre and ever-changing menus.”
Fast forward to 2013, when Trudeau was found in contempt once again for making false claims in relation to The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About. According to USA Today:
His weight-loss book, which once topped best-seller lists, was the focus of the criminal conviction and a related civil case brought by the Federal Trade Commission, in which Trudeau was ordered to pay a $37 million judgment.
Trudeau said he couldn’t pay the civil judgment because he’s broke. But the FTC noted Trudeau spent lavishly in recent years, including $359 on two haircuts. Trudeau claimed not to know where $100,000 in gold bars that he bought had gone.
He sold more than 850,000 copies of the weight book, generating $39 million in revenue, prosecutors say. But his lawyers have argued it can only be said 67 buyers were defrauded because that’s how many complained to consumer protection agencies.
He’s been in custody ever since, and at his sentencing Monday, Trudeau got an earful from the prosecutors. According to CNN, they called Trudeau an “unrepentant, untiring, and uncontrollable huckster who has defrauded the unsuspecting for 30 years.”
Even though there are stories of people going off prescription medicines at Trudeau’s advice (laid out in a 2007 takedown from 20/20’s inimitable John Stossel), Trudeau’s lawyers offered a weak defense: even if the book’s claims were total fabrications, noone was taken for more than the cost of the $30 book, so no one can claim the “defendant’s actions shattered lives.”
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.