LOS ANGELES — Girls Gone Wild boss Joe Francis lashed out at casino mogul Steve Wynn in front of jurors in a courtroom battle Tuesday, claiming Wynn is a “gangster” who threatened his life.
Wynn is suing Francis for slander in the latest battle between the two that started after a dispute over a gambling debt at one of the Wynn Resorts Ltd.'s casinos.
According to the Associated Press, the courtroom fracas had jurors listening to “wildly varying accounts” of whether Wynn threatened to hit Francis over the head with a shovel and have him buried in a sandy grave away from the Vegas Strip according to a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in June 2010.
Francis claimed that record producer and next-door neighbor Quincy Jones told him about the threats in conversations and emails. But Wynn disputes the claim and told jurors he never sent an email in his life.
The GGW chief acknowledged that he never actually read the emails Jones claimed he received, but said he saw one was written in all capital letters but couldn't describe them further.
"It would be a singularly self-destructive act — incredibly, incredibly stupid," Wynn said of the alleged threats, noting that as a casino mogul he’s regularly monitored by gambling oversight committees and the FBI for a presidential commission appointment.
But Francis, reportedly jittery and argumentative with Wynn’s lawyer and the judge, claimed that Jones gave him good reason to be afraid. "He was trying to save my life," Francis said of the record producer. He further said that Jones told him that Wynn was a gangster and a murderer who was the de-facto head of the Genovese mob family.
In testimony read in court, Francis claimed Jones said about Wynn, "He's gangster. He's old Vegas. He doesn't play."
But Wynn maintained that Francis simply wants to ruin his company and his reputation with thousands of employees by badmouthing him as a criminal.
"If I was a gangster and a criminal, what would that mean to their job security?" Wynn said.
Calling Francis "the most desperate, the most reprehensible" character he has met in more than four decades of work in Vegas, Wynn said he had to sue to protect his honor and business.
"The trouble is Joe Francis' statement stands without the footnote that Joe Francis is a flake," Wynn said.