Joe Francis to Face Nevada Tax Charges Before Sexual Battery

Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis will travel to Nevada to face charges of evading $20 million in taxes after completing his five-week stint in a Florida jail for contempt of court.

Francis is currently serving a 35-day sentence at a Bay County prison, after he was convicted of shouting abuse at seven women during recent settlement talks.

The women had taken legal action against Francis for allegedly filming them in sexual situations while underage at Panama City Beach in 2003.

Yesterday, Federal Magistrate Judge Larry Bodiford ruled the 34-year-old’s tax evasion charges in Reno, Nevada, took precedence over charges of sexual battery in Florida, after court dates for the two hearings clashed on May 22.

The court ruling was made in spite of protests by Florida authorities, who wanted to keep Francis in custody until a trial for the sexual battery charges got under way.

But he will now be sent to Nevada later this month to face charges filed in April accusing him of deducting more than $20 million in false business expenses on his companies’ 2002 and 2003 corporate income tax returns in March of this year.

According to the indictment, Francis used offshore bank accounts and entities purportedly owned by others to conceal income he earned during 2002 and 2003.

If convicted, Francis faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.

Meanwhile, Francis’ misdemeanor charge for sexual battery relates to a January incident at a birthday party in Hollywood, where he allegedly touched an 18-year-old woman’s breast, buttocks and inner thigh at least 10 times, despite being asked repeatedly to stop.

Francis faces six months in jail and a $2,000 fine if found guilty.