CHICAGO, July 27 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Chicago said late-night television pitchman Kevin Trudeau could avoid jail if he helped find assets to repay people he duped.
Trudeau was found in contempt of court, but was allowed to go free to help recover assets, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.
"I'm not sure he can pull those strings from a jailhouse cell," said U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman, referring to steps Trudeau would need to take to secure $37.6 million he has been ordered to pay because of misleading statements about his book, "The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About."
The Federal Trade Commission requested Trudeau be jailed, saying he has money hidden around the globe and has hired an asset manager specifically to hide his wealth from authorities, the newspaper said.
FTC records show Trudeau has spent more than $12 million in the three years since he was ordered to repay the $37.6 million.
Half of that went to "an asset-hiding guru," the Tribune reported.
He also spent significant amounts on a lavish lifestyle, including furnishings for his mansions in Europe.
"I don't think that was money well-spent, Mr. Trudeau. If you had paid that money toward the judgment, you might not be sitting here today," Gettleman said.
Trudeau was ordered not to travel or spend money beyond basic living expenses.