By KIM JANSSEN AND MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporters (Chicago Sun Times) November 12, 2013 3:20PM
He lied and lied and lied.
But after years of living high on the hog as a best-selling author and smooth-talking pitchman, Kevin Trudeau’s fate was sealed Tuesday afternoon in about the time it takes to watch one of his fib-filled weight-loss infomercials.
A federal jury needed less than 45 minutes to find that Trudeau, 50, of Oak Brook, was guilty of criminal contempt of court when he “willfully misrepresented” the contents of his diet book, “The Weight-Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About” in three TV ads broadcast in 2006 and 2007.
Though Trudeau shamelessly claimed the book “is not a diet, is not portion control, is not calorie counting” and was a “simple” way to quickly lose up to 100 pounds or more, it in fact required a punishing 500-calorie daily limit; daily injections of a prescription hormone banned for use in diets; multiple colonic irrigation sessions, and strict adherence to dozens of bizarre and quackish rules, evidence showed.
The verdict likely signals a decisive turning point in the government’s decadelong battle to reign in the previously convicted credit card fraudster. In 2004, he agreed to a court-sanctioned deal with the Federal Trade Commission, promising not to make bogus claims about his books.
Trudeau — who portrays himself as a fearless anti-government and anti-food industry campaigner with access to a suppressed “cure” for obesity — has long insisted he’s being unfairly targeted for speaking out.
But his latest conviction comes on the back of an earlier finding that he was in civil contempt of the 2004 court order. U.S. Judge Ronald Guzman told him Tuesday that it’s just further proof that he “lacks respect for the court and the court’s orders.”
Ordering Trudeau taken into custody. Guzman warned he faces a “probable” prison term when he is sentenced, noting that Trudeau — who’s accused of hiding his true wealth in an attempt to dodge a $38 million court fine in a separate but related case — poses a flight risk.
The verdict prompted tears from some of the Trudeau supporters who packed the courtroom, one of whom later compared Trudeau to Nelson Mandela. But Trudeau showed little emotion as he gave up his possessions and was led into custody.
He winced, however, when prosecutor April Perry used her closing argument to sarcastically repeat his TV claim that the book requires “no potions, pills or powders.” Then she shook the collection of packaged supplements that the book actually called for like a set of maracas.
Trudeau’s attorney, Thomas Kirsch, pointed to disclaimers in the ads and to sections of the book in which Trudeau parroted his TV statements as evidence of his “good faith.”
But Perry said the only disclaimer that would have protected Trudeau would have read, “Everything Kevin Trudeau says is a big fat lie.”
Criminal contempt has no maximum sentence, meaning Trudeau faces anything up to life behind bars when he is sentenced, though a far shorter prison term is more likely.
A sentencing date has not been set.