By Lisa Maria Garza
(Reuters) - Infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau was released from a Chicago jail on Thursday, a day after a federal judge ordered him locked up for failing to pay $38 million in fines over allegedly false promises made in a weight-loss book.
The Federal Trade Commission sued Trudeau, now 50, in 1998, determining that he made misleading claims in six infomercials he produced promoting products that allegedly cured ailments ranging from cancer to memory loss.
In 2004, Trudeau entered a consent order with the FTC that required him to pay $2 million and banned him from advertising products in infomercials.
An exception allowed Trudeau to advertise books, but not the products he touted as cures. The FTC argued that his weight loss book include inaccurate information and violated the agreement.
In 2008, Judge Robert Gettleman ruled Trudeau violated the terms of the settlement with his book promoting "easy" weight-loss techniques such as prescription hormone therapy, colon hydrotherapy and a 500-calorie-a-day diet. He was ordered to pay nearly $38 million, an amount based on the number of books sold.
Trudeau, whose marketing business is based in Chicago, has repeatedly insisted that he is broke and cannot pay the fine.
Federal Trade Commission lawyers on Wednesday presented evidence to demonstrate that Trudeau recently spent thousands of dollars on haircuts, liquor, cigars and high-end meat products.
Gettleman ordered him to be locked up overnight on Wednesday and to meet with a court-ordered receiver on Thursday.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported the federal judge warned Trudeau on Thursday that he's on a "tight leash" and could be jailed again at his scheduled court appearance next week if he is not truthful about his financial assets.
Trudeau has battled federal regulators over his marketing of "cures" for AIDS, hair loss, memory loss and obesity.
(Reporting By Lisa Maria Garza; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Stacey Joyce)
- Kevin Trudeau
- Federal Trade Commission