Top 5 Pitchmen Linked to Criminal Cases
08/20/2015 5:00 pm PDT
They earned fame as weightloss gurus, best-selling authors, athletes and infomercial stars. But many of the men and women behind these brands are still trying to shake off associations with criminal investigations, and in some cases, are serving time.
1. Jared Fogle: "The Subway Guy"
Jared Fogle began pitching for the fast food franchise in 2000 after he claimed swapping junk food for subs helped him lose more than 200 pounds. The story quickly caught on, earning Fogle the moniker "The Subway Guy."
But his wholesome reputation took a hit when the FBI raided his Indiana home in July, two months after Russell Taylor, the then-executive of a children's health charity in Fogle's name, was arrested on child pornography charges. Subway terminated its relationship with Fogle. The pitchman also severed professional ties with Taylor, with Fogle stating he was "shocked" by the "disturbing allegations."
Initial reports suggested the raid on Fogle's home was prompted by a child pornography investigation centered around Taylor. However, Business Insider reported in July the FBI had subpoenaed an affidavit including text messages in which Fogle allegedly admits he paid for sex with a 16-year-old girl.
In a tweet, Subway called the allegations involving Fogle "appalling."
In a new development, FOX59 reported Wednesday Fogle agreed to a plea deal in which he will serve time in prison and pay $1.4 million to 14 victims, four of whom are now adults, $100,000 each.
Fogle pleaded not guilty as a formality Wednesday morning, but will plead guilty in the case based on terms of the plea agreement filed on Wednesday, according to his attorney.
Sources: CBS4Indy, WISHTV.com, Business Insider, FOX59
2. Kevin Trudeau: Best-Selling Weightloss Author
The best-selling book Natural Cures by Kevin Trudeau stands on display at a Borders bookstore August 22, 2005 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Trudeau earned notoriety as a New York Times best-selling author, offering tips on how to melt pounds and cleanse body toxins.
In 2004, the Federal Trade Commission accused Trudeau of making misleading claims and barred the author from doing so in a subsequent settlement agreement.
The issue came up again when the U.S. attorney claimed Trudeau appeared in infomercials between 2006-2007 misrepresenting the contents of his book The Weight Loss Cure "They" Don't Want You to Know About, thus violating the 2004 federal court order.
Trudeau was convicted of criminal contempt in November 2013 and remains in federal custody, serving a 10-year sentence handed out in March 2014.
Sources: WGNTV, CNN, Consumerist.com
3. O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson watches his former defense attorney Yale Galanter testify during an evidentiary hearing in Clark County District Court on May 17, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
O.J. Simpson's infamy as an American football player and sports broadcaster was overshadowed in June 1994, when he led Los Angeles authorities on a pursuit from Orange County to his ex-wife's Brentwood, California estate, with with "A.C." Cowlings at the wheel of a '93 white Ford Bronco.
The chase was the start of what would become one of the nation's most highly-publicized criminal cases.
The Heisman Trophy winner and former Hertz pitchman faced charges of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman, found stabbed to death outside the Brentwood home. Simpson was acquitted of the murders in October 1995.
He was subsequently sued by both the Brown and Goldman families and was ordered to pay more than $33 million in damages.
His legal troubles continued in 2007, when he was accused of kidnapping and armed robbery in a botched attempt to recover sports memorabilia from dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room.
Simpson was found guilty on 12 charges and is currently serving time at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada.
He will be eligible for parole in 2017.
Sources: KTLA, AP, L.A. Times
4. Vince Offer: The ShamWow Guy
Television personality Vince Offer Shlomi attends Family Guy's 'Something, Something, Something, Dark Side' DVD release party at a private residence on December 12, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
The creator of the ShamWow, the Slap Chop and the Schticky was arrested in Miami back in 2009 for felony battery following a violent incident involving a prostitute in his South Beach hotel room.
According to a copy of the police report obtained by The Smoking Gun, Offer met Sasha Harris at a Miami nightclub and the pair left for his hotel, where Offer, born Offer Shlomi, said the woman “bit his tongue and would not let go.”
Offer and Harris were both arrested for felony battery, however, prosecutors declined to file any formal charges.
Offer returned to pitching his products, and can still be “Seen On TV” selling his new stain remover, the InVinceable.
Sources: The Smoking Gun, InVinceable, PR Newswire
5. Youree Dell Harris: “Miss Cleo”
Youree Dell Harris, AKA "Miss Cleo," appears in a commercial for the Psychic Readers Network (Photo: youtube.com/kevstheatre)
Few people may recognize the name Youree Dell Harris, but her television persona earned a cult following when commercials for Psychic Readers Network began airing in the late 90s.
"Miss Cleo," a woman asking viewers in her Patois accent to “Call me now!” for a psychic reading, is still how many remember her.
That changed in 2002, however, when the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint naming the spokeswoman and the Psychic Readers Network, claiming the defendants bilked more than $1 billion from unsuspecting customers.
Harris, a Los Angeles native, was eventually dropped from the suit.
The Psychic Readers Network later settled, agreeing to "cancel $500 million in customer bills," according to Consumer Affairs. The company was also reportedly ordered to pay $5 million in fines.
The outlet reports Harris and PRN have also settled charges in several states, including Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Sources: Consumer Affairs, Vice
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