Money

TV Pitchman Don Lapre Commits Suicide in Jail

| by Michael Allen

TV pitchman Don Lapre, who allegedly defrauded at least 220,000 people of almost $52 million, reportedly committed suicide in jail. Lapre was charged with running a nationwide scam to sell worthless Internet-based businesses.

The 47-year-old was found dead in his cell at a prison in Florence, Arizona, on Sunday, only two days before his trial was due to begin on Tuesday.

The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed he died in an apparent suicide while in federal custody, but the death remains under investigation.

A grand jury had indicted him in June on 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and promotional money laundering.

The charges carried fines of between $250,000 and $500,000 per count and federal prison terms of between five and 25 years.

Lapre's online company claimed that investors would make big money from selling vitamins, but the company tried to get them to purchase additional advertising and other services.

Lapre was famous (or infamous) for his get-rich quick scheme of selling classified ads with 1-900-numbers. Lapre often appeared on late-night TV boasting how viewers could "make millions."