TV pitchman finds he can’t talk his way out of prison term

Written By By MARK BROWN Posted: 04/19/2014, 12:30am

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is about infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau that makes him so easy to hate on.

Is it his outright disrespect for the law and for the federal judges trying to enforce it?

Or is it the photo with the smug look on his oh-so prosperous face?

Is it because he embodies everything you dislike about all those late-night infomercials taking up television airtime that could be showing more replays of your favorite sporting events and old movies?

Or maybe it’s that he managed to get rich by running one of the oldest cons in the book — convincing suckers he was privy to some secret weight-loss cure that “They Don’t Want You to Know About.”

Yes, yes, for all those reasons and more, it was almost fun to sit in U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman’s courtroom Monday waiting for him to lower the boom on “K.T.” — as Trudeau is known by the devoted followers who packed his sentencing hearing.

Guzman did not disappoint, sentencing Trudeau to 10 years in prison, which is pretty steep punishment for a guy whose underlying offense was to trick people into forking over $30 apiece for a weight-loss book.

In a nation that has long tolerated, if not venerated, its flim-flam men (think Professor Marvel in “The Wizard of Oz”), I can certainly understand how this turn in fortune must have caught Trudeau off guard.

Yet outside of Trudeau’s self-help fans, who is going to feel sorry him? Certainly not me.

If federal authorities haven’t figured out where Trudeau hid his money by the time he is due to get out of prison in approximately 2022, I hope they hold him over to serve the full sentence.

Frankly, listening to the line of bull, er, contrition, that Trudeau served up Monday to Guzman in a last-ditch effort to shorten his sentence, I have full confidence he has another money-making book or two inside him that he could knock out while he’s in prison and still come out a rich man.

These may involve the unspecified “life-changing lesson” he said he learned during his time already in prison, which he said he has turned into a “positive experience.”

A positive experience for me was a disruption by Ed Foreman, a former Texas congressman turned motivational speaker, who had to be carried out of the courtroom by federal marshals after he mistook the sentencing hearing for one of his speaking engagements.

Strangely enough, I vaguely recognized Foreman, having heard one of his spiels 34 years ago at a chiropractors “practice-building” convention.

I was there as a young reporter investigating dubious money-making schemes popular with chiropractors at that time.

While the convention was full of flim-flam men, I recall Foreman giving a benign positive-thinking talk. But two pieces of advice stuck out.

One was the importance of making sure you get your “morning constitutional,” the first time I had ever heard that expression. And while taking care of that particular piece of business, Foreman recommended bringing something good to read — although NEVER a newspaper.

This would be a good day for both Trudeau and Foreman to follow that advice.

Email: markbrown@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkBrownCST

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