CHICAGO (CBS) – Infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau was ordered back into federal custody on Tuesday, despite his pleas that he has no assets to pay off a multimillion-dollar judgment against him.
Trudeau, 50, made one last attempt to stay out of jail at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman, who last week found him in contempt of court for failing to identify and turn over any financial assets to pay a fine of more than $37 million, based on the number of weight loss books he sold.
Gettleman ordered Trudeau to pay that sum to the Federal Trade Commission five years ago, for defying a court-ordered ban on making false claims in his weight loss infomercials.
Federal regulators have said Trudeau falsely advertised his book as providing “easy” solutions to weight loss.
On Tuesday, Trudeau again claimed he’s broke, claiming he’d end up spending months, if not years, behind bars, because he can’t hand over what he doesn’t have.
“I can’t turn over assets to you that simply don’t exist. There aren’t any accounts,” Trudeau said.
Gettleman wasn’t buying it, and said the only way for Trudeau to get the message, and be truthful about his assets, would be to put him back in jail.
“How long will it take, I don’t know,” Gettleman said.
Trudeau also was jailed for one day last month, after the FTC found he’d hidden $20,000 in an Australian bank account; and spent thousands more to buy liquor, cigars, high-end meat, and expensive haircuts – in defiance of a court order to halt his lavish spending, and pay off his fine.
Peter Wink, a one-time employee of Trudeau’s, attended Tuesday’s hearing. He said Trudeau’s a con artist, and got what he deserved.
“It was what was expected. Do I believe someone of Kevin Trudeau’s nature would have no money? I don’t personally believe that, but I never was involved in his finances, and can’t prove it,” Wink said.”He’s not the type of person who’s going to get out of jail, and have no funds. That’s just not his makeup, and it’s not his personality.”
Gettleman has said Trudeau can go free as soon as he tells the court where he’s hidden the money he made from hawking dubious weight-loss diets.
Trudeau has yet to pay a dime of the $37 million fine against him, but evidence presented by the federal government showed he’s been spending wildly – buying more than $200,000 in gold bars and coins, and a pair of $12,000 cufflinks; and visiting high-roller tables at local casinos.