"Girls Gone Wild" Founder Arrested

Joe Francis arrives at the JT-TV launch party in Los Angeles on Feb. 9, 2007. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
AP Photo/Matt Sayles
The founder of the "Girls Gone Wild" video empire is in federal custody in Bay County.

The sheriff's office says Joe Francis surrendered to federal marshals earlier today in Panama City on contempt of court charges. He was later booked into the jail.

A press release issued by U.S. Marshal service from the Northern District of Florida on Tuesday said he was arrested after stepping off of a privately chartered jet.

Deputy U.S. Marshal P.J. Joanos said he had tried unsuccessfully on Monday to contact Francis' lawyers in order to coordinate his surrender, the press release said.


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A spokesman for Francis says his lawyers are working toward a settlement.

Francis makes almost $30 million a year through the videos of girls baring their breasts and in other sexually provocative situations.

He drew the contempt order during negotiations in a federal civil lawsuit brought by seven women. They were underage when they were filmed by his company on Panama City Beach during spring break in 2003.

Francis had been a fugitive since Thursday.

An appeals court has denied an emergency motion from Francis asking that he be allowed to remain free pending an appeal of the order.

Francis has said he would settle the case to avoid jail time.