Francis to face charges in Florida

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RENO, Nev. -- "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis is being released from a Nevada jail so he can return to Florida to face charges related to the filming of underage girls.

His lawyer told a federal judge in Reno that Francis will travel to the East Coast on Tuesday and appear in a Panama City, Fla., courtroom on Wednesday day to resolve charges from the 2003 filming of girls during spring break.

Francis has been jailed since last year in Nevada, where he faces federal tax evasion charges.

During a brief hearing Monday before U.S. Magistrate Robert McQuaid, defense lawyer Fred Atcheson gave the court a $1.5 million cashier's check to cover Francis' bail on tax evasion charges.

Francis, 34, has been jailed on both sides of the country for nearly a year, caught in a tug-of-war between federal prosecutors in Nevada and state attorneys in Florida.

Francis has amassed a fortune marketing videos of young women, often inebriated, taking their clothes off.

His legal troubles began five years ago in Panama City, where he still faces four felony and two misdemeanor charges -- all that remain from an initial 73-count indictment stemming from the spring break filming. His lawyers contend the underage women lied about their ages to an independent camera operator, and that none of the footage was used.

A federal grand jury in Reno last April indicted Francis and his companies, Mantra Films Inc. and Sands Media Inc., on tax fraud charges.

The government alleges the companies claimed more than $20 million in phony deductions in 2002 and '03, and that Francis used offshore accounts to conceal income.

That trial is set for August. Francis could face up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
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