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Author and infomercial salesman Kevin Trudeau makes plenty of appearances on television, but he probably wasn't looking forward to his Thursday's public presentation.
U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman today ordered Trudeau to appear before him at 1 p.m. to explain why thousands of customers have flooded his judge's inbox with e-mails in support of Trudeau.
And Gettleman's wasn't messing around either. If Trudeau didn'tarrive on time, the judge threatened to send federal marshals to arrest the pitchman and bring him in by force.
Trudeau appeared on time sporting a dart tan and a wide-brimmed hat just before 1 p.m. But the judge still gave him jail time and issued a fine. He'll report to jail next week.
The contempt charge is related to a civil lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission against him in 2007.
The FTC claimed Trudeau, in his book The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About, "deceptively claim[ed] in his infomercials that the book being advertised establishes a weight-loss protocol that is 'easy' to follow."
In the infomercials, Trudeau claims that the weight loss plan outlined in the book is easy, can be done at home, and readers can eat anything they want, said the FTC. But in reality, the book describes a complex agenda of severe dieting, daily injections of a rare prescription drug, and lifelong dietary restrictions.
Gettleman found the salesman guilty of deceptive advertising and fined Trudeau more than $37 million.
Trudeau then posted a message on his website, asking supporters to e-mail the court, Gettleman said.
The judge said the e-mails have been "harassing, threatening and interfering," (via Chicago Sun-Times) and said they violate a previous order in the case for Trudeau to not communicate with the judge.
"This is direct contempt—that's how I view it," Gettleman said in calling for his appearance. "He interfered with the direct process of the court."
Trudeau has since taken down the message on his website and issued an apology. He said the idea was a "mistake."