updated 10/12/2011 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 10/15/2011 AT 4:00 PM ET
For “King of Infomercials” Don Lapre, life had looked as upbeat as his high-energy TV ads for moneymaking kits.
Married with two daughters, the charismatic go-getter’s website boasts about his “3 best friends :-)” – his two daughters and wife of 23 years – and seemed to be enjoying a booming business, his infomercials so familiar they were parodied by David Letterman and Saturday Night Live.
But in June it all came crashing down. Lapre was charged with 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and promotional money laundering. Arrested and indicted, he allegedly scammed more than $50 million from at least 220,000 people between 2004 and 2007.
Then on Oct. 2, two days before he was stand trial on charges that could have sent him to federal prison for 25 years, Lapre was found dead in his Arizona jail cell of an apparent suicide.