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"Girls Gone Wild" Founder Joe Francis Indicted Over Alleged $2.5 Million Gambling Debt

"Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis poses for a picture at the launch party for the Nintendo 'Wii' game console last November. GETTY IMAGES/Toby Canham

"Girls Gone Wild" Founder Joe Francis Failed to Pay $2.5 Gambling Debt to Las Vegas Hotel-Casino
"Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis (GETTY IMAGES/Toby Canham)
(CBS/AP) "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis plans to fight his most recent indictment by a grand jury Wednesday on charges that he failed to pay a $2.5 million gambling debt to a Las Vegas Strip casino owned and operated by billionaire Steve Wynn.

The Clark County district attorney's office said the 37-year-old soft core porn producer is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 16.

Wynn, the chief executive of Wynn Resorts Ltd., has accused Francis of signing gambling markers, essentially IOUs, at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel-casino in February 2007 without being able to repay.

In Nevada, unpaid markers are treated like bad checks, and as a result, Francis is charged with theft and passing a check without sufficient funds.

However, Francis told The Associated Press that he does not owe the hotel-casino the money because he did not sign a gambling marker.

Instead, he has accused Wynn of attempting to cash the marker 15 months after it was issued, even though Wynn knew Francis' bank had closed the account. Francis has also accused casino officials of reneging on agreed upon discounts.

"The moral of the story is, don't gamble at the Wynn casinos or this will happen to you," Francis said. "Steve Wynn is not a man of his word."

Wynn won a civil suit against Francis in 2009 over the debt; however, an appeal of that ruling was pending in Nevada Supreme Court.

Francis' attorney Dave Houston said the issues at the center of the dispute are the amount owed and how Wynn tried to collect. He claims his client was never given a complete accounting of what is owed.

Houston said the indictment was legal maneuvering in the criminal case to get it into district court.

"The criminal complaint was filed, sat for three years and now the grand jury has picked it up," Houston said. "The case hasn't gotten any better - it's not a new case - it's simply a retread of the original filing."

The Wynn dispute is one of several legal issues facing Francis.

  • Caroline Black

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