Judge finds infomercial pitchman in contempt

February 11, 2010 3:25:23 PM PST
TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau is in trouble with the law once again after urging his supporters to email a federal judge in Chicago who once ruled against him. The judge ordered Trudeau to return to court Thursday.

Trudeau's instructions to his fans were followed all too liberally for the tastes of U.S. Judge Robert Gettleman. He said the deluge of correspondence interfered directly in the operation of his court, and for that Trudeau should be prepared to do some time.

For the moment, Trudeau is free but he's guilty of direct criminal contempt and has to put up bond of $50,000 and surrender his passport by Friday.

On Thursday morning, Judge Gettleman ordered him to court after the glut of emails clogged the judge's computer. In fact, the judge pointed out emails he was still getting as he sat in session at which point Trudeau reddened and blinked his eyes rapidly.

Trudeau is also an author. The judge once ruled that Trudeau was deceptive in ads for the book "The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You To Know About." That led to a Federal Trade Commission finding of fraud against the author, who in court admitted to sending his supporters an email urging them to contact the judge.

"The way he put it," Gettleman said, "it sounds as if he was held in contempt for all of the things he has written and published...just not true."

Through his lawyer, Trudeau said he was sorry. At one of his Web sites, Inside Kevin's Blog, he was more contrite, writing, "I was wrong to make that request. Please do not, under any circumstances communicate with the court or Judge Gettleman. I apologize for this mistake."

But that wasn't good enough for the judge who in announcing the contempt citation said, "once again, [Trudeau] is engaged in deception with his own fans and I'm very disturbed."

"I'm an independent distributor of products for Nutrition for Life, a publically traded firm that does business in all 50 states," Trudeau said in 1996.

Trudeau has a long history with the law. The Instant Executive Program containing a suite of health products to either use or sell was denounced as a pyramid scheme by the Illinois attorney general in the late 1990s. The tanned and tieless Trudeau has declared bankruptcy, been convicted in a check-kiting scheme in Massachusetts, and served two years in a federal prison for credit card fraud.

The U.S. Marshal Service is investigating whether the emails constitute a threat against the judge and there could be further sanctions if that's the case.