10/28/2013 Chicago Kevin Trudeau speaks to the media while leaving the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago on Monday, October 28, 2013. | Michael Jarecki/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 1, 2013 7:29AM
Infomercial king Kevin Trudeau has been doing the federal Hokey-Pokey for more than a month.
In, out, in and — on Monday afternoon — back out of jail again.
The smooth-talking convicted fraudster, 50, was freed by U.S. Judge Robert Gettleman, who has twice in recent weeks ordered Trudeau locked up for hiding assets in an attempt to dodge a $38 million court fine.
Gettleman said he’s still “not convinced, frankly” that Trudeau is the penniless pauper he claims to be.
But he said Trudeau will be more able to help a court-appointed receiver find his missing millions, and can better prepare for his criminal trial next week if he’s free.
Trudeau, of Oak Brook, hasn’t paid a cent of the civil fine imposed on him more than five years ago for flouting a ban on making false claims in his diet book infomercials. He’s exasperated the judge and the Federal Trade Commission by repeatedly insisting he’s broke even as he lived a luxury lifestyle complete with personal chefs and a Bentley.
A one-night stay at the Metropolitan Correctional Center last month and the six-night stay ending Monday were Gettleman’s attempt to coerce him into “coming clean” and revealing where in his complicated web of overseas accounts and businesses his money is hidden.
In court Monday, the judge ordered Trudeau to take an oath of honesty before talking — a move that sent Trudeau’s lawyers scrambling to check what Trudeau was going to say, in case he perjured himself.
After consulting with them, he testified that he’d turned everything over or was “in the process of turning it over. . . to the best of my knowledge.”
But the FTC says accounts from his overseas business Global Information Network show it was making huge profits for years.
FTC Attorney David O’Toole said Trudeau’s businesses “were generating a ton of money . . . and that money has to be somewhere.”
Gettleman agreed he was concerned that money Trudeau may have hidden will be waiting for him abroad once he’s dealt with his legal problems.
O’Toole also repeated fears that GIN may be a pyramid scheme — a problem for Gettleman, who assumed legal control of Trudeau’s businesses in an effort to collect the $38 million fine.
If it’s paid, it will be shared among readers who bought his book, “The Weight-Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.”
The judge told Trudeau he’s “not out the woods” and will be jailed again next month if progress isn’t made. Trudeau also faces a potential prison sentence if convicted or a similar offense at a separate criminal trial — due to begin next week.