Judge springs infomercial king Kevin Trudeau from jail — for now
By KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter September 19, 2013 1:19PM
Kevin Trudeau leaves the Metropolitan Corrections Center after his release following a one-night stay in September. | Sun-Times Media file photo
Updated: October 21, 2013 2:13PM
After spending just one night locked up in a federal jail, former infomercial king Kevin Trudeau is a free man again.
But U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman — who jailed Trudeau on Wednesday only to free him Thursday — said he’d keep the smooth-talking 50-year-old fraudster and alleged multi-millionaire on “a very tight leash.”
If Trudeau doesn’t come clean about just how rich he is, he’ll be back in custody next week, the judge warned. Trudeau said “no comment” to reporters as he left the Metropolitan Correctional Center and entered a taxi.
Trudeau, of Oak Brook, has for five years failed to pay a single cent of the $38 million fine Gettleman imposed on him for flouting a court-ordered ban on making false claims in his diet book infomercials.
The judge this week finally lost patience with Trudeau’s insistence that he is broke and can’t pay the fine after learning that Trudeau went on a luxury spending spree just days after he’d been ordered to limit his spending to necessities last month.
Those luxuries included two $180 Vidal Sassoon haircuts, $900 worth of cigars and $1,000 in meat he bought from an up-market website.
While he was locked up in the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center, Trudeau was ordered to meet with court-appointed receivers who are trying to take control of his complicated web of overseas businesses and offshore accounts so that the fine can be paid.
But the receiver, Kenton Johnson, told Gettleman at Thursday’s hearing that he continued to have “questions and troubling thoughts” about Trudeau’s “fairly consistent failure of memory and lack of detail” about where all his money is.
For example, Trudeau claimed he couldn’t remember where $100,000 in gold bars he bought his wife went, or which towns or banks some of his many accounts were held in, Johnson said.
Johnson said he also was concerned about $644,000 paid from a firm Trudeau controlled to another business he owned in Switzerland — an account he said was set up so that Trudeau could live permanently abroad. Trudeau claimed the payments were for his speaking fees, but a former Trudeau employee in London says they were payments from what the government alleges was a pyramid scheme.
Gettleman noted that accounts from that business, Global Information Network, show millions of dollars being paid out to people he had never heard of.
“You’re saying you’re broke Mr. Trudeau, and it’s pretty hard to swallow,” the judge said, adding that he’d “seriously entertain” closing down GIN.
But Trudeau — wearing an orange Bureau of Prisons jumpsuit in place of his usual high-end tailoring — told the judge he’d tried to be straight with the receiver.
“I’m penniless and homeless,” he said.
Gettleman ordered him to continue meeting with the receiver while he’s free and to return to court next Thursday. If he doesn’t come clean by then, “You’re going to end up wearing the same color you’re wearing now,” Gettleman said, referring to the orange jail scrubs.
Trudeau’s long-standing legal difficulties stem from his book, “The Weight-Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About,” which he falsely advertised as giving “easy” solutions to weight loss.
The $38 million fine — if it’s ever paid — will be shared among readers who bought the book.