By Julie Manganis
BOXFORD — For the past couple of years, former congressional candidate Bill Hudak has derided Congressman John Tierney's claims that he didn't know about his brother-in-law's allegedly illegal offshore gambling operation.
But Hudak, who spent last week touting an "amazing" nutrition supplement that promises a "veritable fountain of youth," turns out to have had no idea that the man he's teamed with to pitch the product has a bit of baggage, as well.
Albert Muir, identified in advertising as heading the "North Shore-Boston-based Qivana Team" with Hudak, is a professional poker player and is currently under a suspended five-year jail sentence for promoting prostitution, according to Connecticut court records.
Muir and his now-ex-wife co-owned a health spa called Marlow's in Branford, Conn., which was raided by police in 2009. A Branford police detective who investigated the case said the business was well-known for years as a pit stop just off Interstate 95 for illicit massages.
Muir on Thursday said he pleaded guilty to the charge, a Class C felony, "because I was afraid she'd turn state's evidence against me" during the couple's divorce. His then-wife was also charged with promoting prostitution at the spa, which she ran.
Until he got a call from a reporter Thursday afternoon, Hudak said he'd had no idea about Muir's past.
"I don't know anything about that," Hudak said.
But he doesn't think it's a big deal — and not ironic in light of his criticism of Tierney's claimed ignorance.
"I think you're really stretching," Hudak said. "There are 25,000 people involved with Qivana." He went on to mention former Olympic athletes and a former judge.
Muir, who has been training Hudak and co-hosting Web seminars and a presentation with him, will get a cut of each sale Hudak makes, and a cut of whatever anyone who is recruited by Hudak makes, Muir acknowledged Thursday.
In turn, Hudak gets income not only for whatever products he gets people to buy, but for bringing people into the marketing program.
That's how most multilevel or "network" marketing operations, such as Qivana, work.
Back in the 1990s, Hudak was a representative for a company called TravelMax, a controversial venture that used thousands of home-based representatives to sell travel packages. Hudak was quoted in a 1997 Los Angeles Times article defending the company after it had shut down its headquarters and phone system.
Hudak said he learned about Qivana, which is based in Utah, during a fundraising call with a long-ago acquaintance he identified as "Gus."
Muir confirmed Thursday that Hudak was referred to him by another Qivana representative he identified as "Augustine," who is from the Springfield area.
Muir said Augustine told him about Hudak, mentioned that they'd both been TravelMax reps 15 years earlier and suggested he give him a call. Muir said he then went on a trip to visit his new wife in Malaysia, and, when he returned, Hudak was eager to get started.
He said he never mentioned his run-in with the law to Hudak.
"It's never really come up," Muir said.
Nor did Hudak ask.
And while Hudak didn't know of Muir's days on the World Poker Tour, he said he didn't see anything wrong with that.
"Professional poker is legal," Hudak said.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or firstname.lastname@example.org.