BEVERLY — As a best-selling author who has sold his books on hundreds of late-night nationally televised infomercials, Kevin Trudeau is used to being seen by millions.
Yesterday at noon, one of the biggest events of his life was witnessed by only a few stunned workers in City Hall.
Trudeau was married to Ukraine native Natalie Babenko in a brief ceremony inside the city clerk's office. Afterward, the newly married couple kissed and posed for pictures on the steps of City Hall, prompting double takes by passers-by on busy Cabot Street.
Babenko wore traditional Ukrainian attire that included a red wraparound skirt, a colorfully embroidered shirt and a wreath of flowers on her head. She jumped up and down with excitement and kissed Trudeau, as her mother, Olga, snapped pictures in front of City Hall.
At one point, Mayor Bill Scanlon and other City Hall employees gathered in the front lobby and gazed out the front door to get a glimpse of the couple.
"He's so handsome," switchboard operator June Kelley said.
Trudeau said he chose Beverly City Hall for the ceremony because he grew up in nearby Lynn and his parents still live there. He now lives in southern California.
"We decided this is a nice, beautiful courthouse," he said, referring to City Hall.
Trudeau said he and Babenko met through a friend three years ago in California. They plan to hold a "big ceremony overseas," but don't know exactly when or where. He said they got married yesterday because "we wanted to make it a U.S. marriage."
Trudeau, 45, has sold millions of books promoting natural health cures, including one, "Natural Cures They Don't Want You To Know About," that sold more than 5 million copies and was No. 1 on the New York Times' nonfiction best-seller list for 25 weeks in 2005.
He has also run afoul of federal regulators, who have accused him of deceptive selling methods. A Federal Trade Commission official once described Trudeau's business as "an infomercial empire that has misled American consumers for years."
The FTC fined him $500,000 in 1998 for making false or misleading claims in infomercials. In 2004, he agreed to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit by the FTC over his claims that a coral calcium product could cure cancer. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Trudeau spent two years in prison in the early '90s for credit card fraud.
Trudeau has filmed many of his infomercials at ITV Direct, a company that has a television studio in its headquarters at Cherry Hill Park in Beverly.
At City Hall, Assistant City Clerk Kathy Connolly, who is a justice of the peace, performed the wedding ceremony. Helen Butler, who works in the city clerk's office, knew a little Ukrainian from a trip to Russia and said hello to Babenko in her native language.
Some workers said they had never heard of Trudeau. But Kelley, the switchboard operator, certainly had. She said she watches Trudeau's infomercials and has many of his books. In fact, she happened to have his "Natural Cures" book right in her office.
Trudeau signed her book, and Babenko gave Kelley her wedding bouquet.
"He shook my hand," Kelley said. "I almost fainted."