Infomercials take center stage in criminal trial of pitchman Kevin Trudeau
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter November 6, 2013 2:00PM
./ A federal jury watched a Kevin Trudeau commercial similar to this one advertising his weight loss cure.
Updated: December 9, 2013 10:22AM
There were no Snuggies, no sofas, no six-packs of beer or greasy, late-night takeout meals littering the room.
Instead jurors endured the absurdities of an infomercial marathon in the forbiddingly sober atmosphere of a federal courtroom Wednesday morning.
“You could lose 10 pounds, 20 pounds, 30 pounds — even 50 or 100 pounds!” the smooth-talking, wild-eyed TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau promised in one of three 30-minute infomercials that were played back-to-back on a giant screen in Judge Ronald Guzman’s courtroom.
The ads — broadcast in 2006 and 2007 — presented Trudeau as a fearless anti-government and food industry campaigner and helped propel his book, “The Weight-Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About,” to the top of the best-seller list.
But prosecutors allege that the ads also broke the law when Trudeau used them to falsely claim in that his book was a “simple cure” for obesity that required no exercise or eating restrictions and “causes no hunger.”
In fact, sections of the book read for the jury Wednesday showed that his plan called for daily injections in the buttocks of a prescription hormone derived from the urine of pregnant women and banned by the FDA for use in weight loss, as well as 15 colonic irrigations in a month; a punishing 500 calorie-a-day food limit, and a confusing medley of herbal teas, trampoline sessions and lengthy walks.
Among the weirder instructions in the book were the directions to listen to “baroque classical music” while eating and the suggestion that dieters hum and perform a complex, choreographed series of head taps and eye rolls to stave off hunger pangs.
None were mentioned in the ads in which Trudeau crowed, “Last night I had pot roast, mashed potatoes, sour cream, tons of butter and a hot fudge sundae!”
But Trudeau, 50, of Oak Brook, insists that each of the claims he made in the ads is repeated in the book, and that he therefore did not violate a 2004 court order that banned him from misrepresenting his book on TV.
He faces anything up to a life sentence if convicted of criminal contempt of court.
Supported in court Wednesday by a gaggle of acolytes who repeatedly nodded in vigorous agreement during the infomercials, he’s also fighting a judge’s efforts to collect a $38 million fine from him in a separate but related civil case.
On Thursday, prosecutors are due to present evidence from a dietician who’s expected to pour scorn on Trudeau’s infomercials.