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Should Snake Oil Salesmen Go to Jail? For 10 Years?

Infomercial hack Kevin Trudeau gets a big jail sentence. Does the punishment fit the crime?

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PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

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March 18, 2014 - 8:00 am

1382477886000-Kevin-Trudeau

Fox News: TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for bilking customers

CHICAGO –  Best-selling author Kevin Trudeau, whose name became synonymous with late-night TV pitches, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for bilking consumers through ubiquitous infomercials for his book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.”

As he imposed the sentence prosecutors had requested, U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman portrayed the 50-year-old Trudeau as a habitual fraudster going back to his early adulthood. So brazen was Trudeau, the judge said, he once even used his own mother’s Social Security number in a scheme.

“Since his 20s, he has steadfastly attempted to cheat others for his own gain,” Guzman said, adding that Trudeau is “deceitful to the very core.”

Daily Mail: Best-selling author Kevin Trudeau jailed for TEN YEARS as judge calls him an ‘uncontrollable huckster’ for selling fake weight loss tips

He sold more than 850,000 copies of the weight-loss book, generating $39 million in revenue, prosecutors say. And the judge agreed with prosecutors that the amount of loss stemming from Trudeau’s deception was more than $37 million — nearly the amount in revenue.

But in remarks Monday asking for a sentence of less than two years for his client, defense attorney Tom Kirsch said the harm Trudeau caused was minor compared to fraud in which some people are cheated out of their life savings.

‘A 10-year sentence might be appropriate for a defendant who destroyed lives,’ Kirsch said. ‘(But) Trudeau — if he swindled anyone — swindled them out of $30 (the price of the book).’

His claims include: ‘The sun does not cause cancer. Sun block has been shown to cause cancer.’

Another one of his statements is that Aids is ‘one of the greatest hoaxes and deceptions ever perpetrated on the American public’.

 

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image via USA Today

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Top Rated Comments   
If this guy got 10 years Jenny McCarthy should get life.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Should Snake Oil Salesmen Go to Jail? For 10 Years?"

Depends. Are they in Congress? Then, yes.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, if he promised I could keep my doctor if I wanted to, then throw the book at him. As for his remarks on the sun, sun block, and AIDS... if those are statements for which you could be imprisoned, I suppose the same judge will be lining up people for the firing squad if they question man-made global warming.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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Gee, I guy wrote a lot of stuff that wasn't true, claiming that certain things were good for you when they were actually bad for you. At least he didn't make it a law that you had to send him money and embrace everything he wrote. The real problem is that such things are reserved for politicians and if the unwashed masses are allowed to evolve defenses against scam artists, then this would ruin the whole big government thing.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I can't help thinking of Obama, bilking an entire country with his phony health care scheme.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
He isn't really in jail for being a con man. He's in jail for being a con man, getting caught repeatedly, bilked customers out of millions, fined 37 million (to better fit the amount he bilked from idiots, raised by a judge from a previous 5 million judgment), etc., etc., etc., for years - and then continuing to sell his pitch. Incidentally, he was convicted of larceny (kiting about 80,000 in checks) and credit card fraud (120,000) in the 90s. Of course that, like the current debacle, is all because "they" are picking on him.

He's such nice guy. Among other things, he recommended his readers get enemas every 2 days, and - as proof that genes or metabolism have nothing to do with weight (I too don't think they're an *excuse* but that's another thing) - points out that inmates in nazi camps were universally thin.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, this is ridiculous nanny-statism. People who are bilked out of their $30 for a poorly written book are fools and Trudeau is slimy, but he's not a criminal based on what I've read here.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
While I think the 10-year sentence was excessive, I have to disagree with "he's not a criminal." He made fraudulent claims and profited from them over public airways. While I can't quote chapter and verse on where in the USC that crime is codified, I'm pretty darn sure the above is a crime.

But again - 10 years for being a successful bunko artist seems excessive, especially considering the actual harm done ($30 per person defrauded).
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is just the tip of the iceberg with this guy. It's just what they were able to prove.

10 years is really much too lenient for KT.

35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
If this guy got 10 years Jenny McCarthy should get life.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Should Snake Oil Salesmen Go to Jail? For 10 Years?"

Depends. Are they in Congress? Then, yes.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The question is a fair one. In principle, I favor restitution for property crimes, but our system doesn't currently allow for that, so we're stuck with the prison option.

So, is 10 years fair?

In this particular case, I think it's far too lenient. Trudeau didn't just bilk a bunch of people out of small change. He's a serial con-man. This particular case is just the tip of the iceberg. He has not only bilked millions of individuals out of small change, he has destroyed at least one business, and a lot of lives along with it.

If we accept the idea of locking people up because they are a danger to society, then Trudeau should be locked up for the rest of his life. He is a sociopath who preys on people financially. He doesn't kill or maim. He is not violent.

He's still a sociopath, and properly belongs at the end of a rope.

But again, our system doesn't currently allow for that.



35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep. He's been defying court orders since the 1990s.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, if he promised I could keep my doctor if I wanted to, then throw the book at him. As for his remarks on the sun, sun block, and AIDS... if those are statements for which you could be imprisoned, I suppose the same judge will be lining up people for the firing squad if they question man-made global warming.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
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