U.S. TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau loses appeal of conviction, sentence

(Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Friday rejected former TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau’s bid to overturn his conviction and 10-year prison sentence for having exaggerated the content of a weight-loss book he marketed through infomercials.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago found no basis to accept Trudeau’s claims that the government lacked enough evidence to convict him, his sentence was too long, and jurors were instructed improperly.

Trudeau, 52, was appealing his November 2013 conviction by a Chicago jury over his promotion of the 2007 book “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You To Know About” in three 30-minute infomercials, which aired roughly 32,000 times.

Viewers were told they could “cure” obesity without dieting or exercise, but the book instructed readers to limit themselves to 500 calories per day, walk an hour each day, take hormones, and undergo colon cleanses and colonics.

Jurors found that Trudeau violated a 2004 consent order with the Federal Trade Commission that said he could not misrepresent the content of books in infomercials in which he starred.

Lawyers for Trudeau did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The appeals court rejected what it called Trudeau’s argument that prosecutors did not show he willfully violated the consent order, and that his misreading teleprompters or using unedited scripts by mistake might have led to any misrepresentations.

“Trudeau’s ‘The Weight Loss Cure’ infomercials included blatant misrepresentations that were patently false and outright lies,” Circuit Judge Diane Sykes wrote for a three-judge panel. “It’s no surprise that the jury reached the same conclusion. The evidence was easily sufficient to convict.”

Sykes also called the 10-year sentence reasonable given “the size of Trudeau’s fraud and the flagrant and repetitive nature of his contumacious conduct.”

She noted that it was shorter than the roughly 20- to 25-year term recommended under federal guidelines.

Trudeau is incarcerated at a minimum security prison camp in Montgomery, Alabama. He is eligible for release in July 2022.

The case is U.S. v. Trudeau, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 14-1869.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish