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'Girls Gone Wild' founder Joe Francis pleads guilty to filing false tax returns

September 24, 2009|Associated Press

"Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis pleaded guilty Wednesday to filing false tax returns and will avoid further jail time in a tax case that spanned two states and several years.

Francis entered the pleas to two misdemeanor counts of filing false tax returns and one count of bribing Nevada jail workers in exchange for food.

An agreement with prosecutors calls for Francis, who has built a soft-porn empire filming and marketing videos of young women, to pay $250,000 in restitution and receive credit for jail time served.

Francis was indicted by a federal grand jury on tax evasion charges in 2007 and has spent 301 days in jail. U.S. District Judge S. James Otero accepted the plea and delayed sentencing until Nov. 6.

In the agreement, Francis acknowledged omitting nearly $563,000 in interest income on his 2003 tax return. Prosecutors initially alleged Francis took more than $20 million in fraudulent deductions in 2002 and 2003 on such items as a Porsche and a Mexican home where he entertained celebrities.

"I'm happy to finally be able to redirect my attention to the business at hand, which is to provide quality entertainment for our millions of fans around the world," Francis said in a statement.

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