Donald Lapre, a TV pitchman who allegedly run an Internet scheme that siphoned about $52 million from 220,000 defrauded Americans, has been found dead in his prison cell at a Florence facility. Lapre had committed suicide while in federal custody, according to U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Matt Hershey. Lapre was found dead in his cell and prison officials attempted to save his life until paramedics arrived but the 47-year-old man passed away.
Phoenix-based Lepre was involved in organizing and running a nationwide scheme intended to sell worthless Internet-based businesses to naive customers nationwide, before a ground jury indicted him on conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and transactional money laundering. The scheme was based on his vitamin-selling businesses called “The Greatest Vitamin in the World,” in which some 226 000 people were involved at the time of his arrest in Tempe.
He promised his clients big commissions for selling vitamins while asking customers to recruit others in a kind of mutli-level marketing scheme used by some reputable companies. Only 5,000 of all customers and investors in the scheme get back $6.4 million in commissions while the other over 200,000 customers lost a total of more than $50 million.