Don’t Send TV Pitchman Kevin Trudeau to Jail

At first I thought the story was a joke. After reading that the death of Chumlee from Pawn Stars was a hoax (last year the hoax was that the “Old Man” had died), I was skeptical when I saw a news story that TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau was going to prison for ten years for fraud.

Trudeau was sentenced 10 years in prison for his “decades-long history of fraud.” U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman described him as “deceitful to the core.”

“He has treated federal court orders as if they were mere suggestions…or at most impediments to be sidestepped, outmaneuvered or just ignored,” Guzman said in handing down an unusually lengthy prison term for a contempt conviction. “That type of conduct simply cannot stand.”

The news report goes on to say:

“Trudeau has been jailed since Nov. 12 when he was convicted by a federal jury of criminal contempt for lying in several infomercials about the contents of his hit book, ‘The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About.’ Prosecutors said he ignored a previous court order by describing the program as easy when it actually called for punishing calorie restrictions and a crippling list of food restrictions.

“Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman has repeatedly found Trudeau in civil contempt for failing to pay anything toward a $37.6 million fine imposed by the Federal Trade Commission in spite of continuing to live a lavish lifestyle.”

So Trudeau is going to prison for 10 years. The cost for incarceration is high. According to one study, the city of New York “paid $167,731 to feed, house and guard each inmate” in 2012.

The same people who were defrauded by Trudeau are now going to have to pay for his punishment.

Is there a better way? Yes. First, sell all his assets and distribute them to the people he defrauded.

Second, make him work, no matter what the job or pay, until he pays back the people he defrauded, even if it’s picking up trash, cleaning toilets, mowing grass, picking fruit and vegetables. It’s called restitution.

Restitution is a biblical and constitutional way for people to pay victims of property crimes. Consider what the late Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship said to the Texas legislature in the 1980s:

“I told them that the only answer to the crime problem is to take nonviolent criminals out of our prisons and make them pay back their victims with restitution. This is how we can solve the prison crowding problem.

“The amazing thing was that afterwards they came up to me one after another and said things like, ‘That’s a tremendous idea. Why hasn’t anyone thought of that?’ I had the privilege of saying to them, ‘Read Exodus 22. It is only what God said to Moses on Mount Sinai thousands of years ago.’”1

Even after the abolition of slavery, indentured servitude was retained by the Constitution as a legitimate form of punishment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction” (Amendment XIII, Section 1).

Don’t send Kevin Trudeau to jail. Make him pay off his debts to the people he defrauded.

  1. Charles Colson, “The Kingdom of God and Human Kingdoms,” James M. Boice, ed. Transforming Our World: A Call to Action (Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1988), 154–155. []
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