Don Lapre, TV salesman, found dead in jail cell
Don Lapre, the self-proclaimed “King of Infomercials,” was found dead after an apparent suicide in his Arizona jail cell on Sunday, People reports. Lapre, 47, was known for his late-night self-help advertisements, which promised viewers that they could make millions as easily as he had. These advertisements were parodied by David Spade on Saturday Night Live.
Lapre was days away from standing trial in a $52 million fraud case involving his Internet-based company, “The Greatest Vitamin in the World.” Lapre’s indictment claims that he tricked at least 220,000 people out of millions of dollars from 2004 to 2007, using a pyramid scheme that sold vitamins that did not produce the heath benefits he claimed. The company was shut down in 2007 after multiple complaints, and Lapre was charged with 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and promotional laundering. If convicted, he would have faced between $250,000 and $500,000 per count and five to 25 years in federal prison.