CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau, who was convicted last year of criminal contempt for exaggerating the contents of his weight-loss book in infomercials, was sentenced on Monday to 10 years in prison.
Trudeau, 51, who has been held in federal custody since his conviction in November, will also have five years of supervised release after serving his sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Guzman said.
“He is deceitful to the very core, and that type of conduct simply cannot stand,” Guzman said, noting that Trudeau had been cited repeatedly for violating court orders over several years.
Trudeau was found guilty last November of violating a 2004 federal court settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that barred him from misrepresenting the contents of his books in advertisements.
A jury found he violated the agreement while marketing his book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You To Know About,” in infomercials made in 2006 and 2007 that aired about 32,000 times.
Trudeau told viewers in the infomercials that the “cure” to obesity was not a diet and did not require exercise, but the book instructed readers to walk an hour each day and to limit intake to 500 calories.
Prosecutors, who said Trudeau’s actions resulted in over $37 million in losses to consumers, had sought at least a 10-year sentence, saying in court papers he was motivated by simple greed and had bilked consumers and defied court orders.
Defense attorneys for Trudeau had asked Guzman to sentence him to no more than 21 months in prison, based on the criminal contempt conviction alone and not for fraud, for which they said he had not been charged.
Trudeau’s attorney, Thomas Kirsch, argued the government could not punish him for the content of the book and the amount of the fraud to the individual was small because they didn’t wipe out anyone’s life savings, attorney Thomas Kirsch said on Monday.
Dressed in an orange jump suit, Trudeau said prison life had caused him to reform and apologized to his family, prosecutors and the people who had bought his books in a lengthy statement before Guzman leveled his sentence.
“I have absolutely learned a life-changing lesson from all of this,” Trudeau said.
The courtroom was packed with Trudeau supporters. One, Ed Foreman, 80, a motivational speaker from Dallas who had been a congressman for Texas and New Mexico, tried twice to make a statement in Trudeau’s support during the hearing.
When Foreman failed to respond to the judge’s order to be quiet, he was lifted up by his arms and legs and carried out of the courtroom by federal marshals.
Foreman was cited for creating a disturbance, which will cost him $175, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Randall Samborn.
Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Scott Malone, Andrea Ricci and James Dalgleish