First look at e-mails Chicago judge deemed threats

April 2, 2010 4:28:32 AM PDT
We're getting our first look at hundreds of e-mails sent to a federal judge by fans of TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau. Those messages so angered the judge, he ordered Trudeau to serve 30 days in jail.

ABC 7's Ben Bradley has an exclusive look at the e-mails, some of which the judge felt were threatening.

Kevin Trudeau has yet to serve that sentence. His attorneys are hoping an appeal to be heard next week will conclude that all these emails -- and the opinions of Trudeau's followers -- are free speech not punishable with prison time.

Trudeau's late-night infomercials, books and products promise relief from everything from financial trouble to digestive disorders. But there was no relieving the anger of Federal Judge Robert Gettleman earlier this year. Trudeau was in his courtroom tangling with the Federal Trade Commission, which said the Chicagoan used deceptive practices to peddle his wares. That's when Trudeau took to the airwaves.

Trudeau shared the judge's e-mail address and encouraged listeners of his radio show to send the judge letters of support. Hundreds did. At least one called the judge profane names. Others, obtained by ABC 7, tell Judge Gettleman to "put the bribes behind you."

The e-mailers praise Trudeau and his teachings for healing cancer, inspiring weight loss and saving lives. One writer says "Kevin Trudeau is an angel sent from above." Others ask the judge if he can live with the "death count" that would come from silencing Trudeau.

Less than 24 hours after Trudeau's call to action, the judge hauled the pitchman downtown to the Dirksen Federal Building. He told Trudeau he didn't take kindly to veiled threats from his fans.

"Obviously, this is a 1st Amendment issue, and I certainly thought that I was exercising my 1st Amendment rights," Trudeau said in February.

A spokesperson for the US Marshals Service, which provides security for federal judges, says these e-mails have been added to their threat assessment database. None, though, has been deemed an actual threat to Judge Gettleman's safety.

Nonetheless, Trudeau faces that 30-day jail sentence. That is despite the fact he quickly told his supporters to stop e-mailing the judge.