Fraudster Kevin Trudeau out of prison, back in court for ‘reunion’ with judge who might lock him up again

Lawyers asked a judge to detain the author of “The Weight-Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About” as they try to find millions he may have hidden away.

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Kevin Trudeau walks out of the Dirksen Federal Building after a hearing, Thursday, November 17, 2022.

Kevin Trudeau walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after a hearing Thursday. Trudeau served eight years in prison for a contempt conviction and was released in January.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

One-time TV pitchman and fraudster Kevin Trudeau has been released from prison after serving eight years for a contempt conviction.

But he was back in federal court Thursday in Chicago, where prosecutors asked a judge to put him back behind bars as they try to prove he’s stashed millions of dollars overseas and plans to flee there.

Prosecutors with the Federal Trade Commission said they were picking up their case where it left off in 2014, before Trudeau was imprisoned for contempt. Back then, prosecutors claimed Trudeau had defrauded buyers of his book “The Weight-Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About” with misleading advice.

Trudeau was fined $37.6 million and the government refunded many of the purchasers of his book. But Trudeau said he was broke and did not explain where his money had gone. The government said he still needed to refund millions of dollars more.

Before halting the case years ago, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said Trudeau would have to explain where the money was. The judge added then: “That will be interesting. I’m not sure I’ll be sitting here, but I hope to be.”

But Gettleman was there Thursday at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse to continue the case. He entered the courtroom holding a crutch for balance. “It’s like a reunion,” Gettleman said.

Gettleman said Trudeau appeared to have violated his order to notify the court when he was released from prison. Trudeau was released in January to home confinement, which ended in May.

Prosecutors said Trudeau had ignored the order. “I think they wanted this to go away,” FTC lawyer Jonathan Cohen told the judge.

Trudeau’s lawyer, Giel Stein, said it was a “misunderstanding” and apologized. “He’s deeply regretful he did not show up at the end of his home confinement,” Stein said.

The judge told Trudeau’s lawyers to provide an explanation for why he should not put their client back behind bars, as he planned to years ago before the case was halted by his prison sentence. The judge said he would wait for a written explanation before making a decision.

“I’m not going to put him in jail today, so don’t worry about that,” Gettleman said.

The judge ordered Trudeau not to leave the district until the end of the case. “He’s not going overseas. He’s not going anywhere,” Gettleman said.

At issue are two boxes of new evidence provided to the FTC by Trudeau’s now-ex-wife. The government wants to use those documents in Trudeau’s upcoming deposition, but the defense lawyers asked to review them for possible violations of attorney-client privilege. The judge ordered that attorneys on both sides review the documents and report back to him.

Prosecutors also allege Trudeau hid millions of dollars overseas and plans to flee there. The new evidence comes from information from Trudeau’s ex-wife’s testimony in their divorce proceedings, prosecutors said.

At the end of the hearing, Trudeau got up from his seat and walked up to the podium, asking to address the judge. His lawyer leaned into Trudeau, then told the judge: “Trudeau is asking me to ask the court how much it is believed that he owes?”

“I’m not going to answer that question,” Gettleman said.

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