'Infomercial King' Kevin Trudeau Released From Jail

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The FTC lawyer, Jonathan Cohen, was less charitable. "We strongly disagree with how candid Mr. Trudeau was" in the interview, he said in court.

Some of Trudeau's responses, Cohen said, were "implausible or demonstrably incorrect statements."

Trudeau argued it was unrealistic to expect him to recall specific details of transactions that in some cases occurred years ago. He told the judge that at the time of the interview he was tired and "loopy," and hadn't eaten all day.

"There is no 37 million dollars. There's not 10. There's not 5. There's not even 1 million," Trudeau told the judge today in court.

The government, however, remains deeply skeptical.

Despite his pronouncements in court today, Trudeau is getting a monthly allowance of nearly $5,000 from the receivership, and he is still living in a 14,000-square-foot rented mansion in a tony suburb west of Chicago. The receiver stopped paying the rent on that home this month, and it is unclear whether Trudeau intends to, or has the means to remain there.

For the better part of the past 14 months, Trudeau has been locked in an acrimonious dispute with the FTC over the agency's allegations that he was concealing assets that should have been used to pay the sanction.

Wednesday's contempt finding was the fourth of Trudeau's career, which is also dotted with $2.5 million in prior settlements with the FTC for allegedly misleading claims for a host of products he pitched in infomercials. The 50-year-old Massachusetts native's record also includes two felony fraud convictions from the early 1990s, for which he spent nearly two years in federal prison.

The $37 million penalty at the root of this dispute was formally entered in 2010 when Judge Gettleman ruled Trudeau had made misleading claims in infomercials for his best-selling book, "The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About."

The FTC's complaint in that case alleged Trudeau had bamboozled hundreds of thousands of consumers with claims that the diet - which calls for prolonged periods of extreme calorie restriction, off-label injections and high-colonic enemas - was "easy." The judge ordered Trudeau to compensate any consumer who bought the book after viewing one of the ads.

But Trudeau didn't pay. So last summer, the FTC petitioned the court to jail Trudeau, arguing that was the only hope of getting him to pony up. Trudeau countered that he would pay if he could, but it was impossible because he had no assets.

Over the course of the next several months, the FTC subpoenaed the records of dozens of banks, corporations, individuals and law firms to bolster its allegations that Trudeau was masking his control of multiple lucrative business ventures that funded a lavish lifestyle, replete with luxury automobiles and stately homes.

The FTC presented evidence that alleged Trudeau, who moved to Switzerland last fall, had embarked on a sophisticated asset-protection scheme that revolved around the creation of several vaguely-connected companies, trusts and overseas bank accounts nominally owned or directed by Trudeau's young Ukrainian wife, Nataliya Babenko.

Trudeau and Babenko were married in 2008. She was 22 and Trudeau was about to get hit with the $37 million judgment. The FTC argued that Babenko was a key figure in Trudeau's attempts to dodge the penalty.

Trudeau's attorneys consistently claimed that Babenko, who recently completed a year of graduate film studies at New York University, was a "successful businesswoman in her own right" and that the assets of companies she owned or directed could not be used to satisfy the judgment against Trudeau. The judge didn't buy that, and placed those companies and about a dozen others under the control of the receiver.

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