By Carolyn Kellogg
10:29 AM EST, November 13, 2013
In the world of dieting, many promises are made and broken. But author Kevin Trudeau's is an extreme case: He had been warned by no less than the Federal Trade Commission not to make false claims about his diet book in advertisements.
Nevertheless, he appeared in a recent set of infomercials for his book "The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You To Know About" saying that it revealed a miracle substance that would allow people following his diet plan to eat all they wanted and still lose weight. The infomercials aired 32,000 times.
A federal jury in Chicago found Trudeau guilty of criminal contempt Tuesday and he was taken into custody, Reuters reports. He faces potential federal prison time.
Trudeau has been in hot water with federal officials in the past for infomercials marketing remedies for AIDS, hair loss, memory loss and obesity. He paid $2 million in a 2004 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and agreed to stop advertising products with infomercials.
Publications about products, however, were still OK -- as long as he followed the rules.
NPR writes, "In a series of infomercials, Trudeau claimed the book revealed a 'miracle substance' discovered in the 1950s and kept secret by food companies and the government that allows people to eat anything, not exercise and not gain weight. In fact, the book prescribed daily exercise and a 500-calorie-a-day diet."
Trudeau's attorney argued that everything he said in the infomercials appeared in the book, so he hadn't violated his agreement, and that his claims had been stated as opinion and should be protected by free speech. The jury in the criminal case found against him.
In a civil case in 2010, Trudeau was fined $38 million, a sum he has not paid. This fall he has twice been jailed for failing to pay the judgment and for not accounting for his assets. Trudeau, 50, says he cannot pay.
[For the Record, Nov. 14, 2013: An earlier version of this post said Kevin Trudeau had been warned by the Federal Communications Commission.]
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