Infamous TV pitchman, who was focus of 41 Action News investigation, ordered to federal court

CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge is ordering an infamous TV pitchman to appear in court as the Federal Trade Commission fights to have him thrown in prison for nonpayment of a multi-million dollar fine.

The case has ties to an undercover 41 Action News investigation that scrutinized Global Information Network (GIN), an exclusive club promoted by best-selling author and infomercial king Kevin Trudeau.

On Thursday, Judge Robert Gettleman ordered Trudeau to appear at an evidentiary hearing on May 21. The FTC wants to throw Trudeau in prison for contempt, arguing he has yet to pay a dime of an enormous $37.6 million for misrepresenting the contents of his weight-loss book.

In his order, Gettleman also instructed GIN to comply with subpoenas for its financial records.

RELATED | Undercover investigation questions secret global club promoted by TV pitchman http://bit.ly/TFoVEb

In its contempt motion, the FTC had argued that Trudeau was using GIN to hide millions of dollars in assets while continuing to live a lavish lifestyle.  

Trudeau has maintained that he does not have the money to pay the huge sanction. He also denies controlling the finances of GIN.

However, Gettleman sided with the FTC in his order, writing that "Trudeau is living much more like a prince than the pauper he professes to be."

According to the court documents, the FTC presented evidence that Trudeau recently lived in an expensive suburban home with two personal chefs and a butler. Over the span of several months last year, he also reportedly spent over $100,000 in home furnishings, $16,000 in clothes and $1,000 in cigars.

In the November investigation, 41 Action News went undercover to a GIN weekend conference held in Nashville. Nearly 2,000 people from around the world attended the conference and glowingly endorsed the club when questioned by 41 Action News employees.

Members of the club join for $1,000 and pay $150 monthly dues. The investigation showed that members are encouraged to continue upgrading their status level in the club. Upgrades within GIN can cost thousands of dollars.

41 Action News spoke with former GIN members and also reviewed more than 100 complaints about the club filed with the FTC, which detailed promises for cash payments that never arrived.

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

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