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Federal Appeals Court Confirms: Kevin Trudeau Is One Big Fat Contumacious Liar

"An appeals court in Chicago has upheld a 10-year prison term for a best-selling author whose name is synonymous with late-night TV pitches," Tribune news services report.

"Its Friday opinion says Kevin Trudeau 'spent his career hawking miracle cures . . . of dubious efficacy' and that his 'bag of tricks contains something to relieve almost any ailment.'

"The unanimous decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' three-judge panel says his sentence for criminal contempt wasn't excessive given 'the size of Trudeau's fraud and the flagrant and repetitive nature' of it."

Indeed. Let's take a look at the highlights of the court's pretty awesome decision, written by judge Diane Sykes.

*

"Kevin Trudeau spent his career hawking miracle cures and self-improvement systems of dubious efficacy. When the Federal Trade Commission sued him for violating consumer-protection laws, Trudeau agreed to a consent decree in which he promised not to misrepresent the content of his books in TV infomercials. A few years later, Trudeau published The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About and promoted it in three infomercials.

"The ads said the weight-loss protocol was 'simple' and 'inexpensive,' could be completed at home, and did not require any food restrictions or exercise. The book, on the other hand, described an arduous regimen mandating prescription hormone injections and severe dietary and lifestyle constraints."

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"On appeal Trudeau leaves no stone unturned. His primary argument concerns an alleged violation of the Speedy Trial Act."

In fact, this argument, which the court rejected, comprises the bulk of the decision. We'll skip it; it's technical, confusing and ultimately not important to us civilians.

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"Trudeau raises an array of other issues as well: He challenges the jury instruction on 'willfulness,' the sufficiency of the evidence, two evidentiary rulings, and the reasonableness of his sentence. These arguments, too, are meritless. We affirm the contempt conviction and sentence."

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"Trudeau's bag of tricks contains something to relieve almost any ailment or burden. His infomercials have peddled products like 'Biotape' (to cure severe pain); 'Coral Calcium Supreme' (to cure cancer); 'Howard Berg's Mega Read' (to increase reading speed tenfold); and 'Kevin Trudeau's Mega Memory System' (to unlock photographic memory).

"Because Trudeau's pitches are factually indefensible, the FTC has repeatedly pursued him for violating consumer-protection laws. To settle one of these suits, Trudeau agreed to the entry of a consent decree in which he promised not to market products without the FTC's approval. He soon decided he wanted more leeway to write books, however, and in September 2004 negotiated a modified consent order that permitted him to star in infomercials for his books provided that 'the infomercial for any such book . . . must not misrepresent the content of the book.

"Soon after, Trudeau released a book about 'natural cures' and produced a promotional infomercial for it. Although the consent order did not require him to do so, Trudeau sent the transcript to the FTC, which indicated its approval. This ad aired without objection.

"In 2007 Trudeau published another book, The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About, which described a complex regimen designed to reduce hunger by 'resetting' the hypothalamus . . .

"The regimen consists of four phases (two of which are 'strongly recommended' but not obligatory), each with a strict list of dietary and lifestyle dos and don'ts. For example, most or all of the phases - including phase 4, which lasts a lifetime - involve abstaining from artificial sweeteners, chain restaurants, prescription and over-the-counter medication, food cooked in microwaves, air conditioning, and fluorescent lighting.

"Program participants are also instructed to walk an hour a day; eat only organic food; do liver, parasite, heavy-metal, and colon cleanses; and receive colonics, which are enema-like procedures performed by specialists.

"Phase 2, which is mandatory and lasts between 21 and 45 days, is particularly arduous and requires a 500-calorie-per-day diet and daily injections of human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone only available by prescription and not indicated for weight loss.

"Trudeau promoted The Weight Loss Cure in three different 30-minute infomercials staged as scripted conversations between an interviewer and himself.

"But the protocol Trudeau talked about in the infomercials bore little resemblance to the one described in his book.

"In the ads he said that the weight-loss protocol was 'very inexpensive,' could be done at home, and was 'the easiest [weight-loss] method known on planet Earth.'

"He also represented that once the protocol was complete, dieters could eat 'everything they want, any time they want.'

"The weight-loss program described in the infomercials sounded too good to be true, and it was. Trudeau never mentioned the dietary or lifestyle restrictions, injections, cleanses, or colonics mandated in the book."

*

"The FTC took Trudeau back to court for violating the 2004 consent order. The district court found that the infomercials misrepresented the content of The Weight Loss Cure, despite Trudeau's jesuitical attempts to harmonize them.

"Judge [Robert] Gettleman held Trudeau in civil contempt and entered a $37.6 million judgment against him, an amount equal to the gross revenue from books sold through the infomercials."

*

"The contempt charge was tried to a jury over six days be-ginning on November 5, 2013 . . . The jury convicted Trudeau of contempt, and Judge [Ronald] Guzman imposed a ten-year prison sentence, well below the guidelines range of 235 to 293 months."

*

Sykes, on behalf of her colleagues, goes on to eviscerate every argument Trudeau throws at the wall, in a manner expressing a different kind of contempt, such as in this one:

"Trudeau next challenges the sufficiency of the government's evidence. This is always a heavy lift, and it's especially so here . . .

"Trudeau's main contention is that the government presented no 'state-of-mind evidence' from which the jury could conclude that he willfully violated the consent order. He argues that without direct evidence of his mental state, the jury was left to choose between several equally plausible benign explanations for his misrepresentations.

"He suggests, for example, that the misrepresentations might have been attributable to the possibility that he left his glasses at homeand misread the teleprompter (while filming each of three infomercials?). Or the teleprompter might have been negligently loaded with an unedited version of the script (and he was unaware that the words he spoke bore little resemblance to the book he wrote?).

"Setting aside the obvious implausibility of these fanciful explanations, the material point for our purposes is that the government had no obligation to present direct state-of-mind evidence . . .

"Needless to say, the jury's verdict is not called into doubt because a defendant can hypothesize on appeal a few alternative interpretations of the evidence.

"Trudeau was free to suggest his lost-eyeglasses or dysfunctional-teleprompter theories to the jury. The only question now is whether the evidence was adequate to prove each element of contempt beyond a reasonable doubt.

"We've previously explained that Trudeau's The Weight Loss Cure infomercials included 'blatant misrepresentations' that were 'patently false' and 'outright lie[s].' It's no surprise that the jury reached the same conclusion. The evidence was easily sufficient to convict."

*

"Based on the size of Trudeau's fraud and the flagrant and repetitive nature of his contumacious conduct, the ten-year sentence - about half the bottom of the guidelines range - was not unreasonable."

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Contumacious: Stubbornly disobedient.

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Previously in Kevin Trudeau:

* Infomercial Review: More Natural Cures Revealed.

* What I Watched Last Night: Infomercial Armageddon.

* TruTweet:

* Kevin Trudeau Could've Been President.

* He Was Good. Real Good.

* The Refund Kevin Trudeau Doesn't Want You To Know About.

* Kevin Trudeau's Jailhouse Jig: More Oprah Than Mandela.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on February 9, 2016


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