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House of Cards The case of one-time credit counseling giant AmeriDebt took a turn for the worse this week, as a federal court judge ordered its founder Andris Pukke to jail for contempt of court, the Associated Press reports.

AmeriDebt reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2006 to pony up $35m in funds to repay customers defrauded by the company, which claimed to provide credit counseling services to deeply indebted Americans, but which in fact allegedly siphoned off an estimated $170m of customer money.

He only produced $4 mil of the $35 mil - enough for about 300,000 customers - but evidently US District Judge Peter Massitte ran out of patience with the slow pace of repayment. The Judge held Pukke in contempt of court back in March, but gave him more time to come up with the missing money. He accused Pukke of using friends and family to hide money in an internet gambling company, a Belize housing project and a Latvian bank account.

"This is no longer a game," Messitte said to Pukke before the marshals led him off in cuffs. "This is serious business when you have a court order." ®

Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office

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