TV pitchman Trudeau gets 30-day jail sentence

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A federal judge sentenced Kevin Trudeau to 30 days in jail on Wednesday after scolding the TV pitchman for inciting his fans to flood the judge’s e-mail with testimonials in his favor.

Trudeau has long battled federal regulators over his marketing of alternative “cures” for obesity, memory loss, disease and financial ruin.

U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman chastised Trudeau last week when he learned the pitchman had urged buyers of his books to write to the judge’s e-mail address with letters of support.

Gettleman saw it as a threat to his safety. Trudeau apologized and posted a message on his Web site to stop the campaign.

Trudeau was in court because an appeals court had thrown out a $37.6 million fine and a three-year infomercial ban against him for violating the terms of a 2004 Federal Trade Commission settlement with his book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.”

Gettleman has yet to decide on a revised punishment.

The 30-day jail sentence was stayed for a day to allow Trudeau to appeal, but he was ordered to forfeit a $50,000 bond.

Trudeau’s attorney Kimball Anderson said he was preparing the appeal to try to keep his client out of jail.

The case is Federal Trade Commission v. Trudeau, No. 03-cv-03904.

Reporting by Andrew Stern. Editing by Robert MacMillan