In prison for sweat-lodge deaths, Ray pitching 'success' via CD set

2012-04-17T00:03:00Z 2014-07-08T17:10:52Z In prison for sweat-lodge deaths, Ray pitching 'success' via CD setTim Steller Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 17, 2012 12:03 am  • 

Pitchman James Arthur Ray, imprisoned for the deaths of three people at a sweat-lodge ceremony, is selling a 14-CD set by email that he promises "will literally reprogram your mind for success."

What's more, the set was developed by Kevin Trudeau, a self-help author ordered to stop making infomercials selling alleged cures for cancer, then fined $37.6 million when he kept doing it.

In his own sales pitch for the CDs that Ray is promoting, Trudeau said that for $99 - or $19.97 per month for 10 months - buyers will learn "the very same secrets that the privileged few, the elite of the world, the members of royal families, and the billionaires, have used to achieve their wealth and power."

Ray's involvement disgusted Tucson attorney Ted Schmidt, who represented a Southern Arizona woman seriously injured in the October 2009 sweat-lodge ceremony led by Ray, in which three people died.

"This only proves that Mr. Ray will shamelessly continue to prey upon the emotionally vulnerable for profit even in the face of criminal conviction," Schmidt said by email Monday. "He was making a fortune with this nonsense before he killed and seriously injured innocent people."

Calls and emails to Ray's attorneys and his business were not returned.

Ray, a motivational speaker who appeared in the popular video and book called "The Secret," led a five-day "Spiritual Warrior" seminar outside Sedona and held a sweat-lodge-style ceremony as the climax of the experience. In addition to the three people who died, several others were injured, some seriously.

In June 2011, a Yavapai County jury found Ray guilty of three counts of negligent homicide.

In November, he was sentenced to two years in state prison, and now he's serving his time at the Lewis prison complex north of Gila Bend.

Before the sweat-lodge incident, Ray was a popular personality in self-help circles, pitching books, seminars and other products that he said would teach customers to "attract" the life they want - including wealth, love and spiritual satisfaction.

Even during his trial and while awaiting sentencing, Ray kept sending sales pitches to his email list, including one promoting a numerology service.

His latest pitch, sent Thursday, begins by acknowledging obliquely that he is in prison: "It's been a while since we last talked, and since I'm going to be away for a while, I just wanted to quickly reach out and encourage you to continue your own learning & growth."

"The program is taught by a very close personal friend and colleague of mine," the email goes on. "Because we're close personal friends, he's agreed to give you, and all my other students and friends, the entire 14-CD 'Your Wish Is Your Command' program for a ridiculously low price."

Ray could not have sent the email himself because he doesn't have Internet access, Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said.

However, there's nothing to prevent him from having associates on the outside send emails on his behalf, Lamoreaux said.

Ray also has a financial incentive to do so - in a January court filing, he told a Yavapai County judge that he's indigent.

Schmidt said his client and others in a civil suit against Ray only received a settlement from Ray's insurance coverage. Ray sold his other main asset, his Beverly Hills mansion, to pay for his defense, Schmidt said.

The Federal Trade Commission sued Trudeau in 2003, accusing him of making false claims in his infomercials about the powers of coral calcium.

In January 2004, Trudeau agreed to stop making the claims, but then he reverted to the same infomercial appeals. When the court tried to enforce the original order, he called the court's action a violation of his First Amendment rights.

Trudeau has a radio show that is broadcast at 7 p.m. daily on KWFM-AM in Tucson.

In November, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the $37.6 million fine, calling it a conservative figure, and concluded "Trudeau aired infomercials in violation of the order at least 32,000 times."

On StarNet: Read Tim Steller's blog, Señor Reporter, at azstarnet.com/senorreporter

Contact reporter Tim Steller at 807-8427 or at tsteller@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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