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'King of Infomercials' Commits Suicide before Trial

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FLORENCE, Ariz.) -- Infomercial pitchman Don Lapre committed suicide in prison, two days before he was to face charges for defrauding thousands of people in Internet business schemes.

Authorities discovered his body on Sunday morning in a Florence, Ariz., prison cell.  His trial was scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

A grand jury indicted Lapre in June on 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and promotional money laundering. He was accused of overseeing and promoting a scheme through his company, “The Greatest Vitamin in the World.”

At least 220,000 victims in the scheme were defrauded of nearly $52 million, the government alleged.

Lapre, 47, referred to himself as the “King of Infomercials” and was parodied on Saturday Night Live through a recurring sketch by actor David Spade. He came to fame in an ubiquitous late-night spot in which he claimed he parlayed "tiny classified ads" into a million dollar empire.

On his website,, registered under his name, he recently responded to the charges against him, saying, "I tried to create the best product on earth, paid out millions, made very little trying to make it a success, had attorneys review my entire company, paid out millions in refunds, tried to make the commission and products better every single year, and in spite of all that, I have been accused of something I did not do.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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