A federal judge declined to throw pitchman Kevin Trudeau in jail Friday, fearing his alleged victims would never get their money.
Instead, even as he found him in contempt, Judge Robert Gettleman gave Trudeau a judicial tongue-lashing and ordered him to transfer ownership of all of his companies, as well as his bank and brokerage accounts, to a receiver.
"Mr. Trudeau is a puppet master who has a lot of strings out there and I'm not sure he can pull those strings from jail," said Gettleman, who made no effort to hide his disgust with the man who made millions offering fans everything from memory courses to get-rich-quick schemes to calcium tablets
"It's undisputed that Mr. Trudeau has not paid the money," the judge declared, noting that even since he was ordered to pay, Trudeau has dispersed at least $12 million, $6 million of it on lawyers as he fought efforts to pay up.
"I don't think that was money well spent Mr. Trudeau," said Gettleman. "It's just one like, after the other, after the other."
For his part, Trudeau insisted that he had no control over the many companies which the government insisted he created, and that there is no money to be had.
"They're convinced that I have this money hidden someplace," he said in a video posted on his website. "I told 'em, 'Great! Let's find it. Let's split it!'"
Convinced that he would be jailed Friday, Trudeau suggested he was ready.
"When I come out," he said, "I'll have the book. I'll have the TV series. It will blow people's minds."
The Federal Trade Commission several years ago won a judgment against Trudeau that's grown to be about $37 million.
In his ruling, Gettleman ordered Trudeau not to transfer any of his assets to any other party.
"I am hopeful one more time if we do it this way we will actually get to the bottom of this," he said.
After court, Trudeau's attorney Kimball Anderson insisted there are no funds to be found, but he promised Trudeau would cooperate.
"He's maintained that he doesn't owned the company and in fact there is separate and independent ownership," Anderson said. "But I'm sure he's going to use his best ability to marshal whatever assets there are to pay the judgment."