LOS ANGELES — The attorney representing Joe Francis said today that former porn mogul shouldn't be sanctioned on contempt charges after he allegedly disregarded a preliminary injunction after he entered the offices of Girls Gone Wild and hasn't returned two company vehicles to a bankruptcy trustee.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sandra Klein last month warned of $5,000-per-day sanctions, without limitation, until the vehicles are delivered to the trustee, as well as payment of the trustee's attorneys fees and costs arising from his "contumacious conduct."
Attorney Michael Kolodzi, in a brief filed this morning, told the court that Francis declared that the two vehicles — a 2012 Bentley Flying Spur, which is valued at about $200,000, and a 2007 Cadillac Escalade — were seized by a creditor in Guadalajara, Mexico.
In the declaration, Francis said that the seizure of the vehicles took place one year before debtors for Girls Gone Wild filed bankruptcy.
Francis said that because Girls Gone Wild failed to fulfill obligations under a promotional agreement several years ago with a local strip club, that the owner of the club — called "DGL ITSMO SA DE CV" — had a right to possession of the cars.
"Under Mexico law, I am powerless to retrieve the vehicles and the [strip club owner] refuses to return them," Francis said in the declaration.
In the contempt motion on charges that he entered the Westwood, Calif., offices of Girls Gone Wild, Francis' attorney told Klein that because the adult company had been sold to a third party that the injunction did not apply.
Kolodzi noted that the injunction applied to "debtors and its employees" and not the new operators of the company.
Francis' trips with girlfriend Abbey Wilson to the offices took place in May month after the company was sold by a bankruptcy trustee to pay off debts. An entity called GGW Acquisition LLC acquired the adult operator's brands for $1.825 million, while taking over its office lease.
Attached to a response on why Francis shouldn't be held in contempt, the former porn mogul said in a declaration that the reason why he set foot in GGW Acquisition's offices was that he was concerned that the new owners would remove his property.
He noted that he came to take pictures "to make sure the property had not been illegally removed."
Francis alleged in the declaration that girlfriend Wilson, five months pregnant with twins, was "pushed and physically assaulted and battered" by a security guard hired by GGW Acquisition.
"Ms. Wilson and I retreated to the main lobby of the building, and then went outside where I was physically assaulted by [GGW Acquisition executive] Adam Levin, who hit me and pushed me to the ground in front of the building," Francis said.
At that point, Francis said, Levin made a citizen's arrest and police were called. Francis was arrested on misdemeanor assault charges and spent that night in jail. He was released the following morning on $20,000 bail.