Money
Money

"Girls Gone Wild" Joe Francis Sues Casino Over $2.5 Million Gambling Debt

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LOS ANGELES, CA -- Soft-core porn mogul Joe Francis claims the Wynn Las Vegas casino falsely accused him of reneging on a $2.5 million marker. Francis' federal complaint states he has paid some of the $2.5 million, but does not specify the precise status of the debt.

Francis claims Stephen Wynn and his employee Barbara Conway caused the Clark County District Attorney's Office to press criminal charges after presenting the marker at a Wells Fargo bank account that they knew had been closed in May 2007 due to Francis' "unrelated legal troubles."

Francis, head of the "Girls Gone Wild" soft porn franchise, was charged with tax evasion in Reno in April 2007, accused of deducting more than $20 million in false business expenses. The case was moved to Los Angeles, and in September 2009 Francis pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns and bribing Nevada jail workers for food while incarcerated in Reno, according to contemporary newspaper reports.

In his federal complaint, Francis says he was unable to settle the $2.5 million marker because he was otherwise engaged, with the "tax-related matter."

(Francis also has been sued, repeatedly, by women, some of them underage, who claim his employees plied them with alcohol to encourage their filmed frolics.)

In his complaint, Francis says Conway submitted false answers to a bad check/marker complaint form at the Clark County District Attorney's office "so as to employ criminal charges to unfairly collect money Wynn Las Vegas was not owed, by using the threat of prison and felony conviction."

"Furthermore, defendants actively encouraged the Clark County District Attorney's office to press charges and issue a warrant for plaintiff's arrest, despite knowledge that their representations were false," the complaint states.

Francis says he was arrested in October 2008 and released on bond.

"On February 1, 2011, the grand jury for the Eighth Judicial District State of Nevada met and, pursuant to the presentation and instructions of the Clark County District Attorney, charged plaintiff with one count of omnibus theft, and one count of drawing and passing a check without sufficient funds in drawee bank with intent to defraud.

"Due to these false charges initiated by Conway and Wynn Las Vegas, plaintiff was required to retain criminal defense counsel to protect his freedom and reputation at substantial cost," the complaint states.

Francis says the court "fully exonerated" him and "dismissed the criminal case on September 14, 2011, finding that '[t]he State did not present "slight" or "marginal" evidence demonstrating [plaintiff] intended to take the marker out from [Wynn Las Vegas] and not repay his debt.'" (Brackets as in complaint.)

Francis does, however, acknowledge the $2.5 million marker, though he says he paid part of it. His complaint does not clarify the precise status of the debt.

It states: "Shortly after his trip to Las Vegas, on February 24, 2007, plaintiff deposited $800,000.00 with Wynn Las Vegas, and internal Wynn Las Vegas records showed the funds being 'on deposit,' with the $2.5 million marker and $300,000.00 marker outstanding."

Then his tax problems began. Francis was in jail in Florida when he was indicted on the tax charges in Reno, according to contemporary news reports. In his complaint, Francis says Wynn Las Vegas "agreed not to submit the markers for payment during this time."He claims the casino monkeyed with the marker to compound his troubles: "Wynn Las Vegas, Wynn and Conway, or another Wynn Las Vegas employee, forged the date of plaintiff's February 16, 2007 marker so that it would appear that it was recently issued, and not stale. Internal accounting records were also altered by Wynn Las Vegas, Wynn and Conway, or another Wynn Las Vegas employee, to create the appearance of criminality."

He adds: "The written statements concerning plaintiff [from the District Attorney's Office] were false, in that the marker was part of an extension of credit and had been repaid, at least in part. The original $2.5 million marker had been internally voided due to partial payment, only to be resurrected to accommodate criminal charges."

Francis demands punitive damages for malicious prosecution, abuse of process, intentional misrepresentation, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy.

He is represented by Aaron Aftergood.

Neither Wynn Resorts nor the Aftergood law firm immediately responded to requests for comment.