CHICAGO (AP) — Prosecutors seeking 10 years in prison for TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau for bilking consumers via widely broadcast infomercials say he's an "uncontrollable huckster."
Defense attorneys say the government goes too far in its portrayal of Trudeau, and he should get less than two years behind bars for a November criminal contempt conviction.
In their scathing, 41-page filing in U.S. District Court in Chicago this week, federal prosecutors suggest the 50-year-old Trudeau would likely even seek to cheat his fellow prison inmates, adding, "He appears capable of nothing else."
"(Trudeau) is an unrepentant, untiring and uncontrollable huckster who has defrauded the unsuspecting for thirty years," it says. It adds, "(He) preys upon the sick who want to be made healthy, the poor who want to become rich."
In a response filed Tuesday, Trudeau's attorneys said the prosecution's characterizations were "overblown and unfair."
"Contrary to the view of Trudeau advanced by the government, he is a man who has consistently displayed kindness, generosity, concern for others," the filing said.
Jurors convicted Trudeau in November of violating a court order barring him from making false claims about his best-selling book "The Weight Loss Cure They Don't Want You to Know About."
Trudeau aired infomercials touting the book at least 32,000 times, in violation of the court order; in all, he sold more than 850,000 books, generating $39 million in revenue and at least 5 million in profit, according to the federal document, filed Monday.
In an earlier defense filing, Trudeau argues that even if more than 850,000 books were sold through allegedly fraudulent infomercials, it can only be said that 67 buyers were defrauded because that's how many complained to the consumer protection agencies.
The defense filing Tuesday argues that, regardless, the harm to any one person would have been less than the cost of the book, so under $30. Therefore, it goes on, no one can contend that the "defendant's actions shattered lives and ruined economic security."
The government argues Trudeau has not only refused to pay a $37 million judgment in a related civil case, but has bragged about his defiance. While Trudeau has repeatedly insisted he was broke and was not capable of paying, prosecutors say records show that, during the periods Trudeau claimed to have little to no spare money, he spent lavishly, including $4,000 on draperies.
Trudeau, who lives in Oak Brook, a Chicago suburb, is jailed as he awaits sentencing on March 17.
Defense attorneys encouraged the sentencing judge, U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman, to consider that Trudeau has already paid a heavy price for his legal difficulties, which they say includes the loss of his home and his ability to resume a viable career.
"He has, in effect, lost everything," the filing says.
Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mtarm