Infomercial Pitchman Collapses in Federal Court

Get-rich-quick infomercial pitchman William J. McCorkle collapsed in federal court after hearing the reading of 13 guilty verdicts on fraud charges, the Associated Press reported. He was taken to a hospital while the remainder of the 69 guilty verdicts were read Nov. 4.

U.S. District Judge Patricia Fawsett stopped the reading of the verdicts and authorities led the visibly shaken McCorkle out of the Orlando, FL, courtroom.

“I can't sit through that,” McCorkle was quoted as saying. “I need some water.”

McCorkle, 32, was reportedly in stable condition at Orlando Regional Medical Center and was being guarded by U.S. marshals. He was being evaluated for symptoms from a possible anxiety attack, a hospital spokesperson said.

The AP reported McCorkle and his 30-year-old wife, Chantal, were charged with fraud, conspiracy, obtaining a credit card and a Social Security number under false pretenses and laundering several million dollars into offshore bank accounts. She was convicted on 69 charges. The McCorkles each could be sentenced to up to 19 1/2 years in prison and fined $250,000.

McCorkle's companies sold videos and pamphlets that promised to teach customers how to make money on foreclosed real estate. Federal prosecutors said McCorkle misled customers and refused to issue refunds when they were dissatisfied.

Prosecutors contend the couple made $28 million from their businesses. The couple has denied they misled people and said they refunded money to unhappy customers. They did not testify in their own behalf during the nine-week trial.

Before deliberations began, defense attorney F. Lee Bailey said McCorkle was a fair businessman who always took the high road in his dealings and issued 38,800 refunds totaling $4 million over the years – without the government making him do it.

Brian Higgins and Herman Venske, associates of McCorkle, each was convicted of one count of fraud conspiracy. Another former adviser was acquitted of conspiracy.

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