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Dr. Phil "Guest Shoplifters" Talk Their Way into Prison; Feds Watched Couple Confess on TV

Dr. Phil (CBS) CBS
NEW YORK (CBS/AP) A hint to future guests of the Dr. Phil show: The cops are watching.

Matthew and Laura Eaton of California can attest to that.

In 2008, the couple appeared on the program in an effort to seek help for what their lawyer described as "a chronic shoplifting problem" on an episode entitled "Shoplifting Confessions."

During that appearance, however, the Eatons come across as boastful about their lucrative scheme of shoplifting toys, and then selling the items online.

The Eatons provided the program with a home video of an out-of-state road trip in which the pair brought their children along as decoys, before the family walked out of stores without paying for merchandise.

After their Dr. Phil appearance, the Eatons, perhaps unsurprisingly, became a focus of federal law enforcement. In March 2009, more than 500 boxes of toys and other items were carted off when investigators from the San Diego Regional Fraud Task Force raided the couple's San Marcos, California home.

And so 11 months after their television debut, the Eatons were indicted for moving stolen goods across state lines, allegedly selling more than $100,000 worth of items, mainly toys, using eBay and PayPal.

On Monday, the Eatons were sentenced to prison by a federal judge, with Matthew Eaton receiving 27 months and his wife Laura getting one year and one day. 

District Judge Irma Gonzalez did not shy from voicing her opinion of Dr. Phil McGraw, calling the television psychologist a "charlatan" and "a terrible, terrible man" after asserting that McGraw did not, in fact, offer any help to the couple, belying the premise of his show.

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