Infamous TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau sentenced to prison for misleading infomercials about diet book

CHICAGO, Ill. - A federal judge sentenced infamous infomercial king Kevin Trudeau to 10 years in prison for repeatedly defying court orders and failing to pay an enormous $37 million fine.

On Monday inside a Chicago federal courtroom, Judge Ronald Guzman imposed the sentence on Trudeau, who had been convicted of criminal contempt last November. That trial focused on the TV pitchman’s misleading infomercials about his best-selling book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.”

Guzman apparently described Trudeau as "deceitful to the core" while doling out the punishment.

The $37 million judgment is tied to a corresponding civil case brought by the Federal Trade Commission, which successfully argued in 2010 that Trudeau owes consumers repayment for the deceptive sales pitch of the book.

However, prosecutors have provided mountains of evidence that Trudeau has not paid a dime of the fine while continuing to live a lavish lifestyle . In the three years after the civil judgment, Trudeau racked up more than $3 million in credit card charges on airfare, hotels, expensive foods, gym memberships and trips to the salon, according to court filings.

In a scathing summary of Trudeau’s history of deceit , federal prosecutors asked for a sentence of at least 10 years.

“Defendant is an unrepentant, untiring, and uncontrollable huckster who has defrauded the unsuspecting for 30 years,” read a sentencing memo filed on March 10. “Defendant preys upon the sick who want to be made healthy, the poor who want to become rich, and the insecure who want to feel better about themselves.”

Trudeau has been in jail since November because the judge presiding over the civil case, Robert Gettleman, still doesn’t believe the TV pitchman is being forthcoming about his elaborate web of assets and offshore accounts.

Last July, Gettleman found Trudeau in contempt for failing to pay the $37 million fine and ordered all his companies and bank accounts transferred to a court-appointed receiver.

One of those companies was the focus of a 41 Action News undercover investigation in November 2012. The investigative report examined the money-making claims and exhorbitant fees paid by members of the Global Information Network (commonly referred to by the acronym GIN).

Trudeau claimed he had no ownership of GIN, but the FTC argued the secret global club was really just another way the TV pitchman was trying to shield assets from the government’s reach.

Court documents filed by the receiver, Robb Evans & Associates, later revealed the club generated a stunning $100 million in revenue since its inception in 2009. The receiver’s report also showed the vast majority of members lost money on GIN.

Since taking control of GIN, the receiver has discontinued programs and fired employees. Membership has also plummeted. The receiver is currently trying to negotiate a sale of GIN to an interested buyer.

When marketing GIN, Trudeau claimed the club was the brainchild of 30 billionaires around the world known as the “GIN Council.” However, a disclaimer on the organization’s web site now reads , “The entity referred to as the GIN Council does not exist.”

In a desperate attempt to get a lesser prison sentence, Trudeau penned a letter to Judge Gettleman from jail last week. The plea asked Gettleman to “intercede with Judge Guzman” on his behalf.

“Being incarcerated under these circumstances has been the most life changing experience in my life,” Trudeau wrote. “It has been devastating to me, my wife, and my parents. Between the civil and criminal cases, and the receiver, we have been wiped out financially, effectively homeless, and both my wife and parents have had major health breakdowns.”

It was perhaps a strange request, considering Gettleman found Trudeau in civil contempt six different times over the course of the lengthy court battle.

It will now be up to Gettleman to decide if he wants to allow Trudeau to begin serving his federal prison sentence, or keep him locked up indefinitely for civil contempt at a Chicago jail.

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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