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Snake Oil

Kevin Trudeau Goes to Jail, At Long Last

Good news is always welcome. And I can report today that longtime infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau has been jailed on criminal contempt charges, and has another judge breathing down his neck and ordering him to pay $38 million dollars in restitution. This will put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

Jurors took less than an hour to find Trudeau, 50, guilty of violating a 2004 federal court settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that barred him from misrepresenting the contents of his books in advertisements, said Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago.
Trudeau, who was jailed twice in recent months for civil contempt by a different federal judge in Chicago, faces potential prison time for the criminal contempt conviction in the trial before U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman.
Prosecutors had argued Trudeau knowingly violated the 2004 agreement while marketing his book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You To Know About,” in infomercials made in 2006 and 2007 that aired about 32,000 times.
In part, Trudeau told viewers in the infomercials that the “cure” to obesity was not a diet and did not require exercise, but the book instructed readers to walk an hour each day and to limit intake to 500 calories.

I’ve looked in on Trudeau’s all-natural pharma-is-killing-you hoo-hah several times over the years, and in 2008 I hoped for jail time in his future. And here we are, at long last. A sleazy, heartless charlatan who has defrauded gullible customers out of uncounted millions of dollars is finally being dragged off to the slammer by deputies, and I hope they’re wearing gloves. About damn time. But today, let us celebrate.

52 comments on “Kevin Trudeau Goes to Jail, At Long Last”

  1. Bob Weiss says:

    Great news!
    Hopefully the next one in their crosshairs is Gary Null…

  2. Anon says:

    Hmm…may be he should also take congressman Darryl Issa!

  3. Dolph says:

    Yay! That’s good news! 🙂

  4. Vader says:

    @2 Anon,
    Issa was involved in quack medicine? I had no idea.

  5. John says:

    I guess my question is why doesn’t the food industry go to jail for false advertising to children and misleading ads. why dont the drug companies go to jail when all top 10 of them have had to settle law suits for fraudelent ads. we are very quick to pin a citizen against the wall…but the same proecuters dont touch big pharma or big banks form gambling away our money. we just settle with them. what a shame! i thought we had free speech in USA.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Derek for bringing more publicity to this quack and others in his mold. Hopefully a few less cancer patients will suffer a slow and painful death from trying to alkalize their bodies.

  7. Puff the Mutant Dragon says:

    I just have a tough time understanding how anybody ever took this guy seriously, or why so many people would buy his books when they were obvious crazy-talk. I don’t get it.

  8. Rhenium says:

    Desperate people do desperate things.
    Desperately ill people do…

  9. Anon also says:

    Hmmm, instead of Issa, may be it should be Obama: “If you like your health plan, you can keep it. Period”. That sounds like misrepresentation at the highest order to me.

  10. Sigivald says:

    John: What “false advertising to children” do you have in mind, specifically? I’ve seen lots of ads for food products to children, and none of them seem to make false factual claims.
    [The idea that buying Lucky Charms will make a leprechaun appear and attempt to steal your cereal is not, it turns out, a factual claim, nor do even children take it as such – and children aren’t the ones making the purchase.]
    Note that Trudeau is not going to jail for “misleading” people, but for outright lying to them [“not a diet or exercise” vs. “500 calories a day and walk for an hour”].
    “Free Speech” has never included plain deceit in business dealings, anywhere.

  11. Hap says:

    I hope he gets a nice cellmate…

  12. Anonymous says:

    “not a diet or exercise” is technically correct: “500 calories a day and walk for an hour” is both diet AND exercise.
    No mathematician would accept that [A OR B] = [A AND B], so why do we think so in this case?

  13. Anonymous says:

    @12: And no mathematician would accept that [A and B] is in any way consistant with NOT [A OR B].

  14. Cato the Elder says:

    please no blue/red political comments on here… sometimes I feel like this is one of the few websites still left unscathed by such

  15. great unknown says:

    An uncolored political comment, then.
    “A sleazy, heartless charlatan who has defrauded gullible customers out of uncounted millions of dollars…” Doesn’t that describe a great number of politicians?

  16. Hap says:

    Would anyone like to suggest songs for Mr. Trudeau’s music player while he’s in the hole? I vote for “Captive Honour” by Megadeth.

  17. David says:

    Justice has been served!

  18. Anon says:

    I’m very pleased to hear this. My own mother — a healthy, smart woman, skeptical about so much — loved Trudeau and sent piles of cash to him and to scam artists like him. It was the one subject that we eventually decided never to discuss with each other.

  19. newnickname says:

    “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” – H. L. Mencken (attributed)
    (Actual quote: “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.” /2011/04/ 5-things-you-wont-go-broke .html

  20. zDNA says:

    The guy sounds like a classic psychopath to me. His only problem was that he wasn’t in the executive suite at some established company. So why single him out?

  21. Pennpenn says:

    @20- Maybe because he was making a show of himself, in the way that a lot of other swindlers don’t.
    Also, yeah, freedom of speech doesn’t mean that you can lie without consequence. Taking responsibility for your words and actions is sadly something a lot of people forget.

  22. You guys are brainwashed says:

    $38 million. not 1 person requested their money back from his NY Times bestseller.
    He said the plan was easy, and not a diet… yeah so lets lock him up..meanwhile I can count a few recent lies to American people.
    1. benghazi
    2. Obamacare
    3. 9-11
    4. Weapons of Mass destruction!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Lisa R. says:

    @Vader: Issa has facilitated anti-vaccine hearings in the past and has another one coming up next month.

  24. dave w says:

    Issa is a toad for reasons unrelated to his behavior in the legislature: his company (“DEI Electronics”) is the one who introduced those annoying talking car-alarms; supposedly the “step away from the car!” voice clip is Mr. Issa’s own voice.

  25. Kieth says:

    A scruffy latino outlaw had a line in (USA film version) of the Magnificent Seven: “..senor, God provided us sheep so they can be sheared..” that has application here. Mr. Trudeau may deserve jail time but I have very little sympathy for his victims.

  26. Wubbt says:

    Scammers on late night infomercials market their products to the dumb and poor. For the most part, everyone in the industry knows this… but they figure a fool and his money are soon parted. Some of the more interesting scams is charging $9.99 for shipping a customer a “free” book which of course only costs a couple dollars to send (if that) and then of course the customer can’t return something that was “free”…

  27. Lunar landing says:

    Can someone explain to me the difference between the actions of Mr. Trudeau and and those of The Congress and the Senate who claim to be representatives of the people yet trade stocks and securities based upon insider information. Who in the end are the bigger criminals or hypocrites. Take a look at the history of the Stock Act and the insider trading of the Senate and Congress. If you or I traded stocks based upon inside information we would be in jail…..not in the Senate or Congress. I am very happy to see Mr. Trudeau get his just punishment. Stop insider trading of our elected representatives as it brings into question the motives of every decision they make.

  28. Phil says:

    So I guess Cigarette company’s can continue to kill people and nobody goes to jail . Half of beauty products are pure lie . This is not fair and you are all just haters , get a life .

  29. Lyle Langley says:

    @21, Pennpenn…
    Kind of like the shows the kings of Wall St. Put on? Yet, no justice there?

  30. Lyle Langley says:

    @14, Cato…
    No red/blue politics here? You’ve not been reading here very long, have you? Keep reading, they come out alright, and not just in the comments.

  31. Jairalee says:

    I don’t understand why you guys care so much that you are celebrating his imprisonment? Has Kevin Trudeau done something to you personally?
    Countless companies have done way worse than this man and you guys are cheering his imprisonment? What’s wrong with you pathetic sick people?
    Ya maybe he went a little overboard with his marketing stunts but seriously good news? Your all just so glad someone who has caused you no harm what so ever is in prison for next to no reason. The real sad part is that if they can take him to prison over his subjective opinion then what does freedom of speech even mean any more? If they can throw a man into prison for so little it won’t be long until they can come after you and sick stupid people will be laughing and cheering as they lock you up and through away the key

  32. Guppy says:

    Derek, I would really recommend you start warning people against posting political snark (of any persuasion). I’ve seen a lot of blogs and forums go into the gutter once these kinds of trolls and flamers gain a foothold — the posting activity actually goes up for a while, but all the intelligent posters will eventually start leaving.

  33. Anonymous says:

    If society imprisoned all the cheats, frauds and liars, the entire population would be in prison. Except for me, and I don’t pay enough taxes to keep you all there.

  34. MTK says:

    I honestly don’t take any joy in this at all.
    Although I do agree with others that he is nothing but a fraud and swindler, all this will do is “prove” to his followers that the powers that be, namely pharma, are trying to prevent him from telling the “truth”.
    Having said that he is not be jailed for speaking his opinion. He’s being jailed for breaking the law. Repeatedly. This isn’t a first amendment case it’s a pretty simple criminal statute case. He agreed to a settlement in 2004 and decided to repeatedly break the terms of that settlement.

  35. newnickname says:

    Since Pipeline covers HR (such as Stack Racking) and related issues I’ll just mention the pop psychology frauds at Myers-Briggs who sell their tests and services to businesses for huge sums.
    Uh oh … I think my J (judging) score just shot up another notch!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Someone mentioned his victims. I recall a quote from quick-basher-cum-pharma-basher Ben Goldacre saying that he views any monies paid to such snake oil sellers is simply a self-administered tax on scientific ignorance. I must admit to not having heard of this guy.

  37. Hap says:

    Why does anyone think letting the evil police the stupid is going to turn out well? If letting (mostly) good people police things on their own is impermissible (because the limits may be hard to recognize, and that “power corrupts” thing), then how is letting evil people do so going to work better?
    Best-case seems to be that the evil will get rich preying on a fraction of dumb or greedy people, which will probably encourage more people to be evil. A worse case is that the evil get enough money to change the rules on their own, and once they have enough power, feasting on dumb people probably won’t be enough. A society run by evil people sounds like a pit full of rats eating whatever shows up. At least it’ll be over soon for us.
    If you reward evil in a society, then what do you think you’re going to see more of?

  38. Anonymous says:

    @36: The entire economy is driven by over-charging the ignorant. Economists call it information asymmetry.

  39. Anonymous says:

    #31 – Jairalee
    “Has Kevin Trudeau done something to you personally?”
    How about watching my grandfather die a slow and painful death (in his 50s) by refusing surgery/medicine for a very curable type of prostate cancer? No, he chose to do it the “natural way” while giving money to quacks like Trudeau et al. He has caused countless others to suffer a similar fate.

  40. unknown says:

    I dunno. I started walking and cut my calories down under a physicians advice. I lost weight and my good cholesteral increased. Didn’t change what I ate or drank.

  41. SirWired says:

    Trudeau isn’t headed for the slammer because of this particular action. To say that the diet industry does not have a stellar reputation for purity in advertising would be an understatement.
    No, Trudeau is a special case; he’s a serial scammer that has been slapped by the FTC about a half-dozen times for various scams over the years, usually related to utterly worthless infomercial products.
    While usually a toothless FTC “settlement” involves an order to Go Forth and Sin No More, and give up whatever ill-gotten gains you haven’t yet stashed offshore, apparently even the FTC has their limits.
    P.S. I second those that request the political comments be left off here… it’s utterly irrelevant to the topic at hand and there are plenty of other places to express such sentiments.

  42. R says:

    Maybe they should execute his he is nothing more then a white collar conmen and it will be a breath of fresh air to see him spend life in prison he is ripped of poor unsuspecting Americans for milo s lining his pockets ears ago I ordered his book it wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on

  43. R says:

    Maybe they should execute his he is nothing more then a white collar conmen and it will be a breath of fresh air to see him spend life in prison he is ripped of poor unsuspecting Americans for milo s lining his pockets ears ago I ordered his book it wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on

  44. Moos says:

    On a side note, I was reviewing “Natural Cures” Amazon page and I found that it reviews at about an average of 3.5 stars now.
    Flicking through the amazing 1,311 5 star reviews, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the sheer amount of articulate, grammatically correct, formal, and perfectly sync’d opinions of a hundred pages of firstName lastName comments. Flicking through a few at willy nilly, I found a curiously large amount of them had 10 people out of 13 who thought their review was helpful, and that /every/ one of them had exactly 1 review for just one product.
    So he’s also guilty of astroturfing comments so hard he outnumbered the actual ones.

  45. RALF MALF says:

    A bounty of information, I buy every used book at thrift stores, and give them away!
    Maybe a weasle-salesman, BUT you have the choice not to buy!
    READ! How many TV SHOWS, magazines, book, are filled with lies?
    SO WHAT?
    Book Police?

  46. RALF MALF says:

    Does anyone know he SUED THE FTC several times?
    And they are ‘out to get him?’
    Do some research, kids!
    He sued them a long time ago!
    ANYONE GOT THE BALLS for that?

  47. Anthony says:

    Response to the prostrate cancer comment- I implemented a natural cure based on findings by a research chemist named Roger Mason called ‘The Natural Prostrate Cure’ it worked great. Everything has been back to normal for 3 years now.
    I’m reading these comments and I see that many of you folks are quite brain washed, uninformed as well as undisciplined too as you haven’t bothered to actually REVIEW the literature and possibly TEST the findings yourself. Your a bunch of very scary people who froth at the mouth at the idea that a now (most certainly at this point) openly FASCIST government will step in and absolutely unconstitutionally crucify any activist or fellow average American (he comes from a working middle class up- bringing and he is self-made like Americans should be) for that matter who challenges the big very corrupt and evil pharma lie (the true pseudo science)that is pushed out through the mind control boob tube for all the dumbed down authority worshiping sheeple to gullibly endorse every day. What with all the pharmaceutical casualties- you folks really have a lot of nerve- or stupidity; especially the guy who wrote this blog- what a collectivist freak. You folks need to make your own decisions for yourself and let other folks come to their own educated conclusions (by educated I mean actually fully review both sides of the argument via- La tabula rasa- that implies unbiased and empirical going in). Lastly, you folks may want direct your energy from your bitter small minded glee at the criminal unconstitutional government throwing people who do not agree with you in jail to figuring out how your going to protect yourselves when this same despotic tyranny finally decides to turn its evil eye on you and yours- in fact maybe you folks will have it coming.

  48. evil biochemist says:

    Damn it, Anthony, you found us out! Our whole goal in pharma is to make money, not save lives. You see, nature cures everything (but, we don’t want people to know that, lest they stop buying our drugs). That’s why before modern medicine, no one ever died of cancer or infections, right? The average life expectancy was 120 prior to the industrial revolution (or was it around 35? Eh… close enough), viruses never infiltrated our organically fed cells (and UV radiation bounced right off!).
    Also, bravo on your analysis. As scientists, we never review and test other ideas. Who has time, right? What, with all the energy we have to expend covering up the natural cures for cancer and all. And obviously, any line of thinking that might be shared (i.e. collectivist) is by default not true! That’s the first rule of logic – two or more people that make the same conclusion based on a common body of evidence are conspiring with one another their conclusion is therefore not true. Duh. We are just sheeple after all. Not at all, like the masses of conspiratorial… I mean enlightened thinkers out there.

  49. Charlie says:

    Coming form the guys whose name is evil biochemist. KT is only being jailed because he is speaking the truth.

  50. Golden Arrow says:

    Evil Biochemist bahahaha….what a fruit cake, sounds like all his education has just spewed out in a 2 paragraph comment…

  51. Lori says:

    Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc.
    —> He’s worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases.
    Ah Ha!

  52. Gary says:

    He is the ultimate hypocrite. He claims deception from other regulatory organizations why he himself does the same thing.Google ” The pot calling the kettle black” and you will probably see his picture in blazing color.The love of money is what got him into trouble.He probably thought that he was so rich that he could buy his way out of trouble.

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