Couple jailed after bragging on TV
Published 23/03/2010 | 11:51
A couple from Southern California couple who bragged on the Dr Phil TV show about making $100,000 (£66,300) by selling shoplifted toys on eBay have been sentenced to federal prison.
US District Court Judge Irma Gonzalez sentenced Matthew Eaton, 34, of San Marcos to 27 months in prison, while his wife, Laura Eaton, 27, was sentenced to a year. Both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines.
Matthew Eaton told the judge he regretted going on Dr Phil.
"I hurt myself. I hurt my family," he said. "I was shoplifting. I don't deny that at all."
The couple was under investigation for shoplifting before the Dr Phil appearance, but detectives did not suspect them of being large-scale thieves until they appeared on the show.
The show also aired a video of the couple's three small children accompanying them on a three-day shoplifting binge.
The Eatons were arrested last September, nearly a year after they appeared on the show and claimed they made as much as $3,500 (£2,300) a week by selling stolen goods.
Assistant US Attorney Nicole Acton Jones said the Eatons stole hundreds of boxes of Lego toys. Laura Eaton used the three children as a distraction, while her husband stole the items, the prosecutor said. Laura Eaton stopped stealing after appearing on Dr Phil but her husband continued, Jones said.
Attorney Leila Morgan, who represents Matthew Eaton, told the judge the couple contacted the Dr Phil show with the hope of getting help with their financial situation but came away with just three books signed by Phil McGraw, the host of the show.
Judge Gonzalez criticized McGraw, calling him a "charlatan". The television host holds himself out to be someone who helps people, "but he certainly didn't help you," Gonzalez told the Eatons.