Monday, April 16, 2007

US: Joe Francis, GGW Pornographer, Adds to His Rap Sheet

Girls Gone Wild founder, Joe Francis, "mugging" for the camera

Joe Francis, famous for exploiting Spring Break exhibitionism on film, then distributing myriad Girls Gone Wild videos via the internet and late-night television ads, has gone and got himself in even more trouble following his arrest for contempt of court earlier this month.

He now adds the following felonies to his rap sheet: tax evasion, bribing a prison guard and having drugs and large amounts of cash in his prison cell.

KLTV 7 reports on the tax evasion charges:
"Joe Francis, the creator of the video series "Girls Gone Wild," has been indicted for federal tax evasion for deducting more than $20 million in false business expenses.

The "Girls Gone Wild" series has been hugely successful for Francis and his companies, Sands Media Inc. and Mantra Films Inc. Francis has raked in millions from the videos, which showcase alcohol-fueled binges and intoxicated coeds exposing themselves at popular spring break destinations and Mardi Gras.

A federal grand jury in Reno, Nev., returned the indictment against Francis for allegedly using offshore bank accounts to conceal his earnings in 2002 and 2003. Francis is believed to make more than $25 million a year from the videos.

According to the Justice Department, in addition to deducting $20 million in fraudulent business expenses, Francis allegedly transferred more than $15 million from a U.S.- based brokerage account to Rothwell Ltd., a Cayman Islands corporation that was established by Francis."

The Houston Chronicle reports on the bribery & contraband charges:
The millionaire founder of the Girls Gone Wild video empire was charged Thursday with bribing a jail guard for a bottle of water and having prescription sleeping pills in his cell, authorities said.

When he learned of the new charges, Joe Francis waived his right to a bond hearing for the contempt of court charge that had led to his being jailed. Francis cried as his mother blew him a kiss while he was led from a federal court room back to his cell.

"I didn't do anything," he told his parents as he was led away, the News Herald of Panama City reported.

Francis, 34, was charged with bribing a public servant, three counts of possessing a controlled substance and five counts of introducing contraband — cash and drugs — into a detention facility. The charges are third-degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.

Francis offered a jail guard $100 for a bottled water Wednesday evening, court records said. When the guard refused, Francis showed him $500, investigators said. Inmates are not allowed to have cash in the jail.

When supervisors searched Francis' cell, they found 16 prescription pills, including the sleeping medication Lunesta and the anti-anxiety pill lorazepam, according to court records.

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