Shoplifters on 'Terrible' Dr. Phil Show Head to Prison
By Dino Sossi Posted Mar 23rd 2010 11:36AM
Dr. Phil McGraw was described as a "charlatan" by a federal judge as she sentenced a husband and wife, who revealed their shoplifting scheme on his show, to prison, reports The San Diego Union Tribune. Matthew and Nora Eaton from San Marcos bragged about their lucrative scheme of shoplifting toys and reselling them on the Web on the 'Dr. Phil' show. Matthew Eaton, 34, was sentenced to 27 months in prison.
Eaton's penalty exceeded what prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney's Office thought was sufficient punishment by one year. Gonzalez characterized Eaton's behavior during the two year scheme as "despicable." Eaton's wife Nora, 27, was sentenced to one year and one day in custody. The couple was indicted on a charge of conspiracy to transport stolen property. They pleaded guilty in December.
The lawyer representing Matthew Eaton said the couple agreed to be on the show to cope with their chronic shoplifting problem. However, their demeanor made them look like they were bragging. And although Dr. Phil presents himself as a person who cares, District Judge Irma Gonzalez told Matthew Eaton, "He obviously didn't help you."
"What a charlatan this man is," cried Gonzalez, describing the talk show host. "What a terrible, terrible man."
Approximately 500 boxes of toys were waiting to be shipped from the couple's home when federal law enforcement officials searched the premises following the broadcast in November 2008. They sold over $100,000 in stolen goods online between August 2006 and March 2009. Prosecutors recommended that Matthew Eaton be sentenced to 15 months in prison.
However, Judge Gonzalez thought that was too lenient. She believed the case was not simple shoplifting and continued for a long period of time, even after the television appearance -- where the couple was supposedly receiving help. Compounding the problem was a revelation by investigators that the Eatons had been trying to appear on 'Dr. Phil' for months, but for "weight loss" issues, not shoplifting. Gonzalez also thought Nora Eaton profited from the crime and deserved punishment, though to a lesser degree than her husband.
Defense lawyer Leila Morgan said show producers pushed the couple to exaggerate their case and that the only real help they received were free copies of McGraw's books. At least they will have something to read in prison.
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